Distribution / Range
It is endemic to the island of Maui in Hawaii. Its natural habitat is wet forests dominated by koa (Acacia koa) and ‘ohi’a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) on the windward side of Haleakala; at elevations of 4,200 to 7,100 feet (1,300 to 2,200 m).
It is the largest honeycreeper on the island at 6.5 to 7 inches (17 to 18 cm) in length.
The adults are a glossy black with whitish feathers and stripes going down its side. The underparts are whitish black while the top has orange feathers sticking from the wings. The feathers behind the eyes are a reddish color, and have a stream of cream-colored feathers coming from the eyes.
It has a flashy whitish gold-colored feather crest on its head.
Immature birds have a brownish-black plumage and lack the orangish feathers of the adults. The legs and bills are a blackish color.
Calls / Vocalizations
Its calls are described as a pair of “whee-o, whee-o”, repeated over and over again; another song is a descending thrill which is done about five seconds apart; or a low chuckling sound, “tjook, tjook, chouroup”; or a rarer song, “hur-hur-hur-gluk-gluk-gluk”.
The ‘akohekohe is a nectarivore that feeds on the flowers of ‘ohi’a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) high up in the canopy.
It is an aggressive bird and will drive away competing nectarivores, such as the related ‘apapane and ‘i’iwi. When ‘ohi’a lehua blossoms are limited, it will eat insects, fruit, and nectar from other plants.
The ‘akohekohe will forage in the understory if necessary, where food plants include ‘akala (Rubus hawaiensis).
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