Vol. 83 No. 6 Jul/Aug 2017

On The Cover

Western Tanager July/August 2017, Vol 83 No. 6

cover 17JAWT Small 120ppi

‘I’iwi | Hakalau Forest Wildlife Refuge | (Photo by Jack Jeffrey)

Found nowhere else in the world, the spectacular scarlet-feathered I’iwi (Drepanis coccinea) is the last of the sickle-billed Hawaiian honeycreepers. Before the appearance of humans in Hawaii, more than fifty different honeycreeper species were known to have existed. Today, only 18 species remain, most of these are endangered or threatened. I’iwi feathers were once collected by early Hawaiian bird catchers or “kia manu”, and used for the feathered cloaks of Hawaiian Royalty. I’iwi are still fairly abundant in the remaining high elevation native koa-ohia forests of Hawaii Island and Maui, but rare on the other major islands. The long down-curved bill of the I’iwi is a perfect match for the shape of tubular flowers of many native plants, making I’iwi important pollinators of these and other native plants. To see an I’iwi, or to hear its loud “rusty hinge” call is an extraordinary experience and one that can only be had in a Hawaiian rainforest.

About the Photographer
A long time resident of the Big Island, and a wildlife biologist, Jack Jeffrey is intimately familiar with Hawaii's hidden valleys and remote rainforests. He brings to his photographic images the knowledge of 40 years of observation and study of Hawaii’s endemic bird species. Combined with a naturalist's curiosity, a photographer’s patience and technical skill, Jack captures the spirit of Hawaii's rare forest birds, plants and other natural treasures in his photographic images. For Hawaii birding tour information please email: JJphoto @hawaii.rr.com

By Dessi Sieburth | Western Tanager July/August 2017, Vol 83 No. 6

The beautiful bright red ‘I’iwi can be seen at the Hakalau Forest Wildlife Refuge (photo Jack Jeffrey).

The beautiful bright red ‘I’iwi can be seen at the Hakalau Forest Wildlife Refuge (photo Jack Jeffrey).

The Hakalau Forest is a national wildlife refuge located on the Big Island of Hawai’i. The refuge supports a rich bird habitat for native Hawaiian birds, many of which are endemic to the Big Island. The Hakalau Forest is about 38,000 acres and is located on the Eastern slope of the Mauna Kea volcano. One unique feature of the Hakalau Forest is that it is made up of just two kinds of canopy trees: the ‘ohi’a tree and the koa tree. These trees can grow up to 80 feet tall, and they form a canopy that shades the smaller trees, shrubs, mints, flowers, and ferns that grow below. Native Hawaiian birds rely on the ‘ohi’a and koa trees to forage and nest. There are eleven native Hawaiian bird species living in and around the Hakalau Forest. Of these, six are Hawaiian Honeycreepers that have evolved from a single finch-like ancestor, which arrived on the island over five million years ago. Over time, the finch gave rise to over 50 honeycreeper species, throughout the islands many of which adapted to pollinate and feed on different of species of flowers.