Hawaii Creeper

Oreomystis mana

Peter LaTourrette
  • DREPANIDIDAE
  • 6,250

This is an endangered species due to its very small population size and extremely fragmented and disappearing range. Its population is severely threatened by habitat loss, feral pigs, and other problems. It recently disappeared from one area and is losing ground in the other two.

Identification
Birds are olive green above, paler below, with a white chin and throat. A dark mask extends from the base of the bill to behind the eye.

Distribution and Population Trends
This species is endemic to the island of Hawaii. It was once widespread there but currently, there are only three population locations remaining. Surveys done from 1976 to 1983 showed that an estimated 12,500 remained; 2,100 were in Kau, 10,000 in Hamakua, 200 on Hualalai, and 75 in Kona. The Hualalai population is now gone, and low-elevation birds of the Hamakua population are thought to either have disappeared or occur there only seasonally. The two other populations are small and considered declining.

Ecology
The Hawaii Creeper is found in ungrazed, wet mixed forests of koa and 'ohi'a trees mainly at elevations of 1,000 to 2,000 meters. Sightings in dry mamane forest suggest that the species may have seasonal movements, unless this is a very small year-round population. It may form small flocks (likely family groups) and may also join large mixed-species flocks after breeding. It forages over the bark of tree trunks and branches. The cup nest is made of mosses, liverworts, ferns, fiber, and animal hair. The nests are placed beneath a shelter of foliage in the fork of an ohia tree. Tree cavities may also be used.

Threats
The biggest threats to this species are loss and degradation of habitat (especially by feral pigs), predation by non-native rats and, feral cats, and avian diseases spread by introduced mosquitoes.

Conservation
The Hawaii Creeper was federally listed as Endangered in 1975. Current U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recovery plans call for additional surveys, investigating how populations are limited, preserving and restoring habitat, and developing a public relations campaign. Populations are protected within the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. Efforts are underway to remove feral ungulates, especially pigs.

What Can You Do?
The Endangered Species Act has helped protect the Hawaii Creeper and made it possible to learn critical information about its biology. Audubon continues to work to ensure that this vital legislation is being used to protect our publicly-owned wildlife resources. Check out http://policy.audubon.org to learn of the latest news about the Endangered Species Act and how you can help. To learn more about other species protected under this legislation, visit: http://endangered.fws.gov/

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges provide essential habitat for Hawaii Creeper and a great number of other species throughout the U.S. and its territories. Unfortunately, the refuge system is often under-funded during the U.S. government's budgeting process. To support U.S. National Wildlife Refuges, consider purchasing a duck stamp which helps to fund wetland habitats in refuges: http://www.fws.gov/duckstamps/

Support efforts to control feral animals and invasive plants and insects throughout the Hawaiian Islands. For more information visit: http://www.hear.org/

Support efforts to protect native forest habitat on Hawaii by state and federal agencies and conservation organizations.

Join Hawaii Audubon Society. A chapter of National Audubon, the Hawaii Audubon Society works to protect and educate people about Hawaii's birds. For more information visit http://www.audubon.org/chapters/hawaii-audubon-society

References
BirdLife International. 2000. Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge, UK.

BirdLife International (2006) Species factsheet: Oreomystis mana Hawai'i Creeper http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=8914&m=0

Ehrlich, P.R., D.S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1992. Birds in Jeopardy. Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

Pratt, H.D., P. L. Bruner, and D. G. Berrett. 1987. The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.