Studies of the population density, habitat structure, foraging behavior, and activity budgets of the Poo-uli (Melamprosops phaeosoma) were conducted intermittently between 1973 and 1985 in a 50-ha study area in the upper Hanawi watershed, island of Maui, Hawaii. Poo-uli have apparently declined in density on this site by 80% from 1975 to 1981 and by 90% from 1975 to 1985. During this period, pig activity, as indexed by ground cover disturbance, increased 473%. Compared to values in the range of the Poo-uli, pig activity was 9-24 times greater in two adjacent out-of-range areas. Poo-uli most frequently foraged from 4-7 m height on ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha), olapa (Cheirodendron trigynum), ohelo (Vaccinium calycinum), and kanawao (Broussaisia arguta) in decreasing frequency; feeding on kanawao was significantly more frequent than random expectation. Chief food items were land snails and insects. Most prey were captured on branches from under moss, lichen, and bark by gleaning, probing, and pecking. Birds spent 48% of their daylight hours foraging and 30% quietly perching. Poo-uli frequently formed small mixed-species flocks, usually with Maui Creepers (Puroreomyza montana), that probably facilitated predator avoidance and foraging efficiency. The major limiting factors at present appear to be habitat modification from feral pigs (Sus scrofa), predation, avian disease, interspecific competition from the introduced garlic snail (Oxychilus alliarius), and possibly gene pool impoverishment. Control of pigs is recommended.
Additional publication details
Ecology, behavior, and conservation of the Poo-uli (Melamprosops phaeosoma)