Iiwi (Vestiaria coccinea)

Birds of North America No. 327
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Abstract

The ‘I‘iwi is one of the most spectacular of extant Hawaiian birds, with vermilion plumage, black wings and tail, and long, decurved bill. In pre-European Hawai‘i, beautiful feather capes, sometimes containing hundreds of thousands of ‘I‘iwi feathers, were a symbol of power and prestige among native Hawaiians. The ‘I‘iwi is a bird of the Hawaiian forests. Its decurved bill seems well adapted to exploit nectar from the similarly shaped flowers of lobelioid plants (Campanulaceae). ‘I‘iwi and ‘Apapane (Himatione sanguinea) are well known for their long flights over the forests in search of the flowers of the ‘öhi‘a (Metrosideros polymorpha) tree, their primary food source. Probably as a consequence of their high flights, ‘I‘iwi, ‘Apapane, and ‘Ö‘ü (Psittirostra psittacea) are the only 3 species of endemic Hawaiian honeycreepers in which the same subspecies occurs on more than one island. Contemporary interisland movements have not been documented.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Organization Series
Title Iiwi (Vestiaria coccinea)
Series title Birds of North America
Series number No. 327
DOI 10.2173/bna.327
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher Academy of Natural Sciences and the American Ornithologist's Union
Publisher location Philadelphia, PA and Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center