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'AKIKI }Oreomystis bairdi

RANGE: Kaua'i

STATUS: This bird is designated as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

THREATS: Climate change, disease, development

The 'akikiki, or Kaua'i creeper, is a small endangered bird in the Hawaii honeycreeper subfamily with a gray back and white belly. Once found in many parts of Kaua‘i, this four-inch, finch-like bird has been pushed back due to disease transmission. Its populations were also devastated by two strong hurricanes that came through its island home back in the 1980s and 1990s. Climate change is likely to combine with past land-use changes and biological invasions to drive several of the remaining species of Hawaii’s native birds to extinction, especially on the islands of Kaua'i and Hawaii. As climate change causes temperatures to increase in Kaua'i's mountains, deadly nonnative bird diseases, including avian malaria and pox, will likely creep up the mountains, invading disease-free 'akikiki refuges. In 2004, the Center and allies petitioned to safeguard 225 species that had been languishing unprotected as “candidates” for Endangered Species Act listing, including the 'akikiki. This bird has now earned U.S. protection.

Photo by Eric VanderWerf