This species qualifies as Critically Endangered because it has an extremely small declining range, confined to one upland area where it is at risk from the effects of hurricanes and exotic taxa, including predators and disease.
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.
Distribution and population
13 cm. Quiet bark-picker with conical, slightly downcurved bill. Adult grey-brown above, white below with pink bill and feet. Juvenile has bold white eye-ring. Similar spp. Female Kaua'i Nukupu'u Hemignathus lucidus hanapepe greener above with yellow tinges around face. `Elepaio Chasiempis sandwichensis has white rump, tail tip, and wing spots. Voice Song a short, descending trill. Call a simple weet. Juveniles following adults utter stuttering series of short notes chit-chit, chi-chi-chit, chit. Hints Forages slowly along trunks and branches, occasionally among flowers. Found in low numbers along Alaka`i Swamp Trail near Koke`e.
This species was common and widely distributed in the 1890s on Kaua`i in the Hawaiian Islands (USA
). During 1968-1973, the total population was estimated at 6,832 (±966 standard error), when it was recorded on the Laau ridge and was fairly widespread in Koke'e (USFWS 1983)
. Since then, the population has declined and the species has retreated from the Koke`e region and the fringes of the Alaka`i region, and is now uncommon to rare in the Alaka`i (Pratt et al.
1987, Pratt 1993,
. Recent unpublished survey data indicate dramatic declines (85-89% since 1968-1973) and a decline of c.64% in its core area in the Alaka`i Swamp from 1970 to 2000 (Anon 2007)
. Most recently the population was estimated to number 1,312 ± 530 birds, based on surveys conducted in April and May 2007 (Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife and USGS, unpublished.data)
, occupying an area of just 36 km2
(Foster et al
. Population justification
Most recently the population was estimated to number 1,312 ±177; 530 birds, based on surveys conducted in April and May 2007 (Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife and USGS unpublished data). This is rounded to 780-1,840 individuals here, roughly equivalent to 520-1,200 mature individuals.Trend justification
The population has declined dramatically since the 1960s and this trend appears to be continuing owing to a number of threatening processes. Consequently, the population is estimated to be declining very rapidly Ecology
It is found in high-elevation `ohi`a and koa-`ohi`a forest, but the latter is mainly distributed in the Koke`e region, from where it is retreating (USFWS 1983, Scott et al
1986, Pratt 1993)
. The Alaka`i stronghold is at 1,000-1,600 m. However, the 1968-1973 surveys found the species at lower altitudes in a few areas, and it may not occur above 1,500 m (USFWS 1983, Scott et al
. It feeds on invertebrates (Scott et al
1986, Pratt et al.
, and has been observed excavating rotting wood from the centre of a twig, presumably for insect larvae (VanderWerf and Roberts 2008)
. Both parents have been observed bringing food to the nest, with the male providing some food for the female, though the female does also foraging independently. A nesting pair in 2007 had a juvenile from a previous nest, indicating the species will attempt to raise two broods (VanderWerf and Roberts 2008)
Lowland forests have been cleared for timber and agriculture, with feral livestock causing further degradation and destruction (USFWS 1983, Scott et al
. Feral pigs continue to be particularly detrimental, additionally dispersing alien plants and facilitating the spread of introduced mosquitoes which transmit avian malaria and avian pox (Scott et al
1986, Pratt 1994, Loope and Medeiros 1995)
. Domestic and introduced birds provide reservoirs for these diseases, to which there is little resistance in Hawaiian honeycreeper populations (USFWS 1983, Scott et al
1986, Pratt 1994, Lepson 1997)
. Predation by introduced animals and competition for arthropod resources by introduced taxa (especially Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus
, wasps and ants) are additional threats (USFWS 1983, Scott et al
1986, Jacobi and Atkinson 1995, Lepson 1997)
. Introduced plants such as Kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum
), blackberry (Rubus argutus
), strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum
), Australian tree fern (Cyathea cooperi
) and firetree (Myrica faya
) have degraded much native forest in Koke'e, and threaten the remaining habitat. Hurricanes have had major impacts on population size in the past; in 1992 Hurricane Iniki devastated forests throughout Kaua`i, and all bird populations on the island appeared to have been drastically reduced (Pratt 1993, 1994)
, although some have since recovered. Hurricanes are now thought to displace birds from the small area of suitable habitat at altitude and push them into the lowlands where avian malaria is prevalent (Anon 2007)
. A growing concern is that rising temperatures could allow mosquitoes to survive at higher altitudes and further transmit avian malaria and avian pox (Anon 2007)
, and having a montane distribution that is close to the maximum altitude within its range, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change (BirdLife International unpublished data)
. Conservation actions underway
It occurs within the Alaka`i Wilderness Preserve but has declined dramatically within this area. The Zoological Society of San Diego is developing techniques for rearing Oreomystis
creepers from eggs and breeding them in captivity, using the related Hawai`i Creeper, at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center (USFWS 2003)
. The Hawai`i Creeper has been successfully propagated in captivity, and release of the captive population is planned (USFWS 2003, P. Roberts in litt
. Captive breeding of Akikiki was due to begin in 2008. Starting in April 2007, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources conducted population surveys of forest birds on Kaua'i to determine trends which were being analysed in late 2007. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in 2005 that the Akikiki should be officially designated an endangered species, but declined to move forward with the listing for budgetary reasons. It has been a candidate species since 1994 and was again proposed in 2007 (Vanderwerf and ABC 2007)
. The Kaua'i Watershed Alliance and The Nature Conservancy are considering fencing the north-eastern section of the Alakai Plateau on Kaua'i where the species was last recorded to exclude herbivores and possibly other predators. Conservation actions proposed
Protect the Alaka`i Wilderness Preserve from the invasion of introduced plants and feral ungulates (Scott et al
, and restore degraded areas. Continue to monitor its population status and distribution. Develop the programme for captive rearing and release, before the population falls to a critical level.
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1983. Kauai forest birds recovery plan. USFWS, Portland, USA.
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.
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, H. D. 1993. Enjoying birds in Hawaii: a birdfinding guide to the fiftieth state. Mutual Publishing, Honolulu.
Pratt, H. D. 1994. Avifaunal change in the Hawaiian Islands, 1893-1993. Studies in Avian Biology 15: 103-118.
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.
Jacobi, J. D.; Atkinson, C. T. 1995. Hawaii's endemic birds. In: LaRoe, E.T. (ed.), Our living resources: a report to the nation on the distribution, abundance, and health of US plants, animals, and ecosystems, pp. 376-381. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Service, Washington, D.C.
Lepson, J. K. 1997. 'Anianiau (Hemignathus parvus). In: Poole, A.; Gill, F. (ed.), The birds of North America, No. 312, pp. 1-16. The Academy of Natural Sciences and The American Ornithologists' Union, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
Foster, J. T.; Tweed, E.J.; Camp, R.J.; Woodworth, B. L.; Adler, C.D.; Telfer, T. 2004. Long-term population changes of antive and introduced birds in the Alaka'i Swamp, Kaua'i. Conservation Biology 18: 716-725.
VanderWerf, E. A.; American Bird Conservancy. 2007. Petition to list the Akikiki or Kauai Creeper (Oreomystis bairdi) and the Akekee or Kauai Akepa (Loxops caeruleirostris) as endangered or threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
VanderWerf, E. A.; Roberts, P. K. 2008. Foraging and nesting of the 'Akikiki or Kaua'i Creeper (Oreomystis bairdi). Wilson Journal of Ornithology 120(1): 195-199.
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.
Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Revised Recovery Plan for Hawaiian Forest Birds 2006
View photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Derhé, M., Harding, M., Isherwood, I., Stuart, T., Symes, A.
Camp, R., Fretz, S., Gorresen, M., Roberts, P., VanderWerf, E., Woodworth, B.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2013) Species factsheet: Oreomystis bairdi. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 20/06/2013.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2013) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 20/06/2013.
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.
Additional resources for this species