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Nukupuu Hemignathus lucidus
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The last confirmed sightings of this species were in 1995-1996 at Hanawi on Maui, with none since then despite extensive effort in a large proportion of the historic range. However, it cannot yet be presumed to be Extinct until further surveys have confirmed that there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. Any remaining population is likely to be tiny, and for these reasons it is treated as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct).

Taxonomic source(s)
AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

14 cm. Medium-sized honeycreeper with strongly downcurved "heterobill" in which mandible is half the length of maxilla. Kaua`i male golden-yellow on head and breast, shading to white on belly and undertail-coverts. Crown, nape, postocular line and posterior edge of ear-coverts slightly tinged greenish, yellowish-green upper-parts. Black lores, eye-ring, and bill. Kaua'i female greenish-grey above, mostly dull white below with yellow restricted to chin, upper throat, and supraloral patch. Maui male similar except greyer dorsally, darker on crown and nape, yellower on belly and undertail. Maui female similar but duller, more dark colouring on head producing prominent yellow superciliary. Similar spp. Kauai Amakihi H. kauaiensis has paler bill, less head/back contrast, and dingier underparts. Maui Parrotbill Pseudonestor xanthophrys rather similar in plumage, but much heavier bill. Voice Song a short warble, call ke-wit, both similar to voice of Akiapolaau H. munroi of Hawai'i.

Distribution and population
Hemignathus lucidus is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, U.S.A. The nominate subspecies, of O'ahu, went extinct in the mid-late 1800s. On Kaua'i, the subspecies hanapepe probably became confined to the Alaka'i Wilderness Preserve (Scott et al. 1986, Conant et al. 1998) where it was apparently recorded a few times in 1984-1998, although at least some, if not all, of these sightings appear to refer to H. kauaiensis (P. Baker in litt. 1999, Pratt and Pyle 1999, Pratt and Pyle 2000). Recent surveys on Kaua'i have failed to find it, and it seems likely to be extinct (Reynolds and Snetsinger 2001, R. Camp in litt. 2003). On Maui, the subspecies affinis was found on the eastern and north-eastern slopes of Haleakala, where there were several unconfirmed detections in 1986-1998, although a single male seen in 1995 (seen by more than one qualified observer and backed up by detailed field notes [Pratt and Pyle 1999]) in the same place as a report from 1994 provided strong evidence of its persistence (Reynolds et al. 1995, P. Baker in litt. 1999, Pratt and Pyle 1999). There have been no other confirmed sightings since then despite extensive effort in a large proportion of the historic range, including annual surveys by the National Park Service (NPS), two State sanctioned surveys, monthly surveys in Hanawi, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) surveys and efforts by the Maui Forest Bird Recovery team. Although not all of these programmes surveyed locations where the species was last observed, many surveyed highly likely locations (Pratt and Pyle 2000, R. Camp in litt. 2003). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (in review) concluded that in all probability this subspecies, and indeed the species, is extinct or functionally extinct. In addition, a recent statistical analysis of physical evidence and independent expert opinion, as part of a study into the burden of proof required for controversial sightings of possibly extinct species, concluded that this species has probably been extinct since the early 20th century; however, when controversial sightings are included in the analysis, the species's extinction is estimated to have occurred since the late 1990s (Roberts et al. 2009). This discrepancy occurs because some authors regard all sightings since 1900 as unconfirmed and thus controversial (Pratt and Pyle 2000, Roberts et al. 2009). The species, however, should not be reclassified as Extinct until further surveys have eliminated any reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. If any population remains, it is likely to be tiny.

Population justification
Any remaining population is assumed to be tiny (numbering fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals), with no confirmed records since 1996, despite surveys.

It inhabits dense, wet `ohi`a forest and the higher parts of mesic koa-`ohi`a forest (Scott et al. 1986, Pratt et al. 1987). On Maui, all recent sightings were between 1,450 and 2,000 m, mostly at the lower end of that range (Scott et al. 1986). On Kaua`i, the Koai`e Valley (where it was seen in 1995 [Conant et al. 1998, Pratt and Pyle 1999]) is at 1,000-1,300 m (Pratt 1994). It feeds on wood-borers, spiders and beetles (Scott et al. 1986, Pratt et al. 1987, Conant et al. 1998, Reynolds et al. 1995).

The lower-elevation koa forests (possibly the species's key habitat) have been nearly eliminated by cattle-ranching (Reynolds et al. 1995). Remaining higher-altitude forests are degraded by introduced ungulates (USFWS 1983, Scott et al. 1986, Loope and Medeiros 1995, Reynolds et al. 1995). Feral pigs facilitate the spread of alien plants and introduced disease-carrying mosquitoes (Pratt 1994, Loope and Medeiros 1995). On Kaua`i, all bird populations appeared to have been drastically reduced after Hurricane Iniki in 1992 (Pratt 1994), although some have since recovered. It has been extirpated from the koa-`ohi`a forests of Koke`e, suggesting that it is sensitive to perturbation. Other suggested limiting factors include predation and competition from exotic bird and insect species (P. Baker in litt. 1999, Wakelee et al. in prep.).

Conservation Actions Underway
On Maui, fencing and feral pig eradication has been completed in a c.650 ha area where the male was recorded in 1994 (Simon et al. 1997, P. Baker in litt. 1999). In Waikamoi Preserve, Hanawi Natural Area Reserve and Haleakala National Park, efforts have been made to combat the establishment of alien plants (Loope and Medeiros 1995, Simon et al. 1997). On Kaua`i, the Koai`e Stream area has been intensively managed to conserve Puaiohi Myadestes palmeri, and may have helped any H. lucidus that remain in the area (Conant et al. 1998, Wakelee et al. in prep.).Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to locate any remaining populations. If any birds are found, attempt to increase the population by captive propagation (Scott et al. 1986). Research competition from exotic bird and insect species (M. Morin in litt. 2000).

Conant, S.; Pratt, H. D.; Shallenberger, R. J. 1998. Reflections on a 1975 expedition to the lost world of the Alaka'i and other notes on the natural history, systematics, and conservation of Kaua'i birds. Wilson Bulletin 110: 1-22.

Loope, L. L.; Medeiros, A. C. 1995. Strategies for long-term protection of biological diversity in rainforests of Haleakala National Park and East Maui, Hawaii. Endangered Species Update 12: 1-5.

Pratt, H. D. 1994. Avifaunal change in the Hawaiian Islands, 1893-1993. Studies in Avian Biology 15: 103-118.

Pratt, H. D.; Bruner, P. L.; Berrett, D. G. 1987. A field guide to the birds of Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Pratt, T. K.; Pyle, R. L. 1999. Nukupu'u in the twentieth century: endangered species or phantom presence?.

Pratt, T. K.; Pyle, R. L. 2000. Nukupu'u in the twentieth century: endangered species or phantom presence? 'Elepaio 60: 35-41.

Reynolds, M. H.; Snetsinger, T. J. 2001. The Hawai`i Rare Bird Search 1994-1996. Studies in Avian Biology 22: 133-143.

Reynolds, M.; Snetsinger, T.; Pratt, T. 1995. Endangered birds found on Maui. Endangered Species Bulletin 20: 10-11.

Scott, J. M.; Mountainspring, S.; Ramsey, F. L.; Kepler, C. B. 1986. Forest bird communties of the Hawaiian Islands: their dynamics, ecology, and conservation. Cooper Ornithological Society, California.

Simon, J. C.; Baker, P. E.; Baker, H. 1997. Maui Parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophrys). In: Poole, A.; Gill, F. (ed.), The birds of North America, No. 311, pp. 1-16. The Academy of Natural Sciences and The American Ornithologists' Union, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1983. Kauai forest birds recovery plan. USFWS, Portland, USA.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Audubon WatchList

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Revised Recovery Plan for Hawaiian Forest Birds 2006

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Isherwood, I., Khwaja, N., Stattersfield, A., Stuart, T., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Derhé, M.

Baker, H., Baker, P., Camp, R., Fretz, S., Gorresen, M., VanderWerf, E., Woodworth, B. & Morin, M.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Hemignathus lucidus. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered - Possibly Extinct
Family Fringillidae (Finches and Hawaiian honeycreepers)
Species name author Lichtenstein, 1839
Population size 1-49 mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 22 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species