Maui parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophrys)

Also known as: Kiwikiu
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyDrepanididae
GenusPseudonestor (1)
SizeLength: 14 cm (2)

The Maui parrotbill is classified as Critically Endangered (CR B1ab(iii)) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1).

This honeycreeper is not a parrot at all, getting its common name from its parrot-like bill and its origin on the island of Maui. It is a stocky bird with a big head and a short tail. The head, back and wings are olive-green and the underside is yellow. The lower bill is yellowish-pink, and the top part of the bill is black. This dark colouration extends as a stripe through the eye. Above, a bold yellow streak runs across the head (2). Females are duller in colour (2) and smaller than males (3). Juveniles have white undersides and less vivid back colouration (3).

Previously found on the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Molokai, this species is now limited to the slopes of the volcano Haleakala on Maui (4).

Inhabits native, montane, tropical forest at altitudes of 1,200 – 2,150 m above sea level (2).

Forming monogamous pairs that last over several breeding seasons (6), both the male and female maintain the territory they share with their dependent offspring year-round (5). During the breeding season, the female constructs a cup-shaped nest made of lichen and small twigs in the outer forks of a mature ohia tree (Metrasideros polymorpha). She lays a single egg and incubates it alone, while the male provides her with food. Both parents care for the chick for five to eight months until the chick’s foraging skills have improved and its bill has strengthened (6).

The Maui parrotbill feeds mainly on the larvae and pupae of wood- and fruit- boring beetles and the larvae and pupae of moths, as well as other invertebrates (2).

Already restricted to higher elevations because of mosquito-borne diseases at lower elevations, the Maui parrotbill is further excluded from the highest elevations due to habitat destruction, and is therefore limited to a very small range (7). Although it occupies all suitable areas, it has a low population density, with the total population currently numbering just 500 individuals (4). The population density is thought to be constrained by food availability, which has been reduced as a result of the habitat damage caused by feral pigs. Habitat degradation elsewhere appears to exacerbate the effects of heavy rainfall, which may have an effect on nest failure (7).

The Hawaiian Division of Forestry and Wildlife implemented a five year recovery plan for the Maui parrotbill in 2003, which aims to protect existing habitat, continue research into the ecology of the species and the threats it faces, restore potential habitat and run a captive breeding programme for release of Maui parrotbills into this newly restored habitat (7).

For further information on this species, see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2005)
    http://www.redlist.org
  2. Capper, D.R. and Stattersfield, A.J. (1998) Threatened Birds of the World. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.
  3. Kowalsky, J.R., Baker, P.E., Pratt, T.K., Simon, J.C. and Berlin, K.E. (2001) Age and sex determination of the Maui parrotbill. Journal of Field Ornithology, 72(1): 12 - 21.
  4. National Biological Information Infrastructure (January, 2005)
    http://pbin.nbii.gov/aviancon/mauiparrotbill.html
  5. Kowalsky, J.R., Berlin, K.E., Pratt, T.K. and Simon, J.C. (2000) Reproductive ecology of the Maui parrotbill. Wilson Bulletin, 112(4): 482 - 490.
  6. Kowalsky, J.R., Berlin, K.E., Farm, B.P., Simon, J.C. and Pratt, T.K. (2001) Home range and territoriality of two Hawaiian honeycreepers, the ‘Akohekohe and the Maui parrotbill. Condor, 103(4): 746 - 755.
  7. Maui Parrotbill Five Year Recovery Work Plan (January, 2005)
    http://www.dofaw.net/fbrp/downloads/pdfs/MAPA%205-yr%20workplan.pdf