One of the last surviving of the extraordinary “finch-billed” Hawaiian honeycreepers (Drepanidinae), the Palila epitomizes specialization for seed-eating as it relies almost entirely on immature (soft) seeds, flowers, and other resources produced or supported by mämane (Sophora chrysophylla: Fabaceae), an endemic dry-forest tree. Mämane seeds are highly nutritious, but a strong, sharp bill is necessary to remove and rip open the tough, fibrous pods that protect them. In addition, the seeds contain high levels of potentially toxic secondary compounds, which may also explain why they are eaten by so few other native or alien species. The Palila's close association with mämane influences not only its foraging behavior but also its distribution, abundance, dispersal, and breeding ecology. Like most drepanidines, the Palila produces small clutches, usually only 2 eggs. However, Palila embryos and chicks develop slowly, so eggs and nestlings are threatened by storms and predators for a longer time than many other small passerine species.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Organization Series|
|Title||Palila (Loxioides bailleui)|
|Series title||Birds of North America|
|Series number||No. 679|
|Publisher||Cornell Lab of Ornithology|
|Contributing office(s)||Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center|