The timing of breeding and molting was studied in six species of Hawaiian honeycreepers with differing food habits on the Island of Hawaii. The availability of nectar was highly seasonal, whereas insect abundance was relatively constant throughout the year. All six species of honeycreeper had extended breeding and molting periods with peak breeding between April and July and peak molting in August. Breeding and molting periods for Apapane (Himatione sanguinea) and Iiwi (Vestiaria coccinea), two nectarivorous species, were shorter than those for the more insectivorous Common Amakihi (Hemignathus virens), Hawaii Creeper (Oreomystis mana), Akepa (Loxops coccineus), and Akiapolaau (Hemignathus munroi). Missing or growing flight feathers and either a brood patch or enlarged cloacal protuberance occurred simultaneously in only 3.2% of 2.786 adult birds examined. Although overlap of breeding and molting was rare, some individuals may have been able to allocate energy resources to both activities because of low clutch size, extended brooding of young, and a low rate of molting.
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Timing of breeding and molting in six species of Hawaiian honeycreepers