U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Will Consider ‘I‘iwi for Protection



After reviewing a petition to list the ‘i‘iwi (Vestiaria coccinea) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has determined that the document presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing may be warranted, and will initiate a 12-month review of the species’ status.  The 12-month finding will determine if the petitioned action is warranted.

On August 25, 2010, the Service received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and Life Net requesting that the Service list the ‘i‘iwi (Vestiaria coccinea) as threatened or endangered and designate critical habitat for the species.  On September 10, 2010, the Service notified the Center for Biological Diversity and Life Net by letter that they were initiating the review of the petition.

According to the petition, several factors have contributed to the decline of ‘i‘iwi throughout Hawai‘i.  These factors are: habitat degradation and loss due to browsing, trampling and digging by nonnative feral ungulates (pigs, goats, axis deer), encroachment and invasion by nonnative plants, increase in frequency and intensity of fire, and urbanization; the spread of avian malaria and avian pox parasitism by bird lice; predation by nonnative animals including rats and cats; inadequate regulations to alleviate the effects of global climate change, to protect ‘i‘iwi habitat, and to prevent the introduction and spread of nonnative species; and disease epizootics.

“The ‘i‘iwi is one of Hawai‘i’s most charismatic bird species,” said Loyal Mehrhoff, field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office. “As a Hawaiian honeycreeper, the ‘i‘iwi serves an important role as a pollinator of native plant species and is a vital component of healthy Hawaiian forests.”

The ‘i‘iwi is a member of the endemic “found nowhere else” subfamily Drepanidinae (Hawaiian honeycreepers).  It is the only species in the genus Vestiaria and is classified as a discrete species by the American Ornithologists’ Union.

The ‘i‘iwi occurs on the five largest Hawaiian Islands (Hawai‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i) and is most abundant in montane wet, closed-canopied, high-stature ohia and koa forests at elevations above

4,922 feet (1,500 meters).  The largest population (more than 340,000

birds) and range, about 772 square miles (2,000 square kilometers), occurs on Hawai‘i Island.  On the windward (east) side of the island, the populations are generally declining except in forests above 4,922 feet

(1,500 meters) in elevation.

The ‘i‘iwi is a medium sized forest bird, with bright scarlet feathers and black wings and tail, with a small white patch on its shorter flight feathers along the inner wing.  The bill is long, curved, and salmon in color.  The diet of the ‘i‘iwi consists primarily of nectar from the flowers of the ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha) and māmane (Sophora

chrysophylla) trees, and plants in the bellflower (Campanulaceae) family as well as insects and spiders.  The iiwi typically lays two eggs at one time, and a pair incubates one to two broods per year.

The Service is soliciting data and other information regarding the species to ensure a comprehensive review.  We request that information submitted be received by March 26, 2012.

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