Reproductive ecology of the Maui Parrotbill

Wilson Bulletin

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The endangered Maui Parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophrys) is an excavating, insectivorous Hawaiian honeycreeper endemic to the high elevation rain forests of east Maui, Hawaii. From March 1994 to June 1997, we studied various aspects of their breeding ecology. We color-banded 18 individuals, located and monitored 9 active nests, and took behavioral data during 440 hrs of nest observation. Both members of a pair maintained a year-round, all-purpose territory that included nest sites and food resources. Maui Parrotbill were monogamous within and between years; we found no evidence of polyandry, polygyny, or helpers at the nest. Nests were cup-shaped, composed mainly of lichen interlaced with small twigs, and positioned in the outer canopy forks of mature ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha) trees. Modal clutch size was one. Females performed most nest construction and all incubation and brooding; males provisioned females and assisted in feeding nestlings after their fourth day. Fledglings depended on parental care for 5-8 months, during which their bill strength increased and foraging skills improved. We calculated the overall nest success rate by the Mayfield Method as 0.42 for the 1995/1996 and 1996/1997 breeding seasons combined. Nest failure and fledgling disappearance coincided with events of high rainfall. Their breeding ecology most closely resembled the Akiapolaau (Hemignathus munroi), another excavating, insectivorous Hawaiian honeycreeper found on Hawaii Island. As with the Akiapolaau, the threat of extinction is persistent and results from both the constraints of inherent life history traits and artificial ecological changes. We advocate the protection and expansion of habitable forest areas and an ongoing program to monitor and mitigate the effects of invasive species.

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Reproductive ecology of the Maui Parrotbill
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Wilson Bulletin
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Wilson Bulletin
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