The distribution, habitat response, sexual dimorphism, foraging, breeding, and flocking behavior of Maui Parrotbills (Pseudonestor xanthophrys ) were studied over a five year period. The species' present range is confined to montane rainforest on eastern Maui, but dry lowland habitats on Maui and Molokai were occupied before Polynesian contact. Birds occurred from 1,250 to 2,150 m elevation, becoming most abundant at 1,750 to 2,000 m. In Kipahulu Valley, birds moved to lower elevations in some seasons. Birds tended to forage in the subcanopy and understory, with 66% of the prey captured 1 to 5 m above ground. Plant species use deviated from expectations based on availability. The most frequent means of prey capture was excavation for timber-boring insects in dead branches on live plants. Foraging accounted for 39% of the diurnal time budget; an average prey item appeared to account for 1% of the daily energy intake. The principal limiting factors appeared to be habitat loss, avian disease, habitat degradation, predation, and competition from exotic species. Control of pig populations is a needed management action.
Additional publication details
Ecology, behavior, and conservation of the Maui parrotbill