Apapane

Himatione sanguinea

TAXONOMY

Himatione sanguinea Gmelin, 1788. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Picchion cramoisi; German: Apapane; Spanish: Apapane.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

5.25 in (13.3 cm); 0.5-0.56 oz (14-16 g). Plumage bright crimson with black wings and tail, white undertail and abdomen; long, downcurved bill.

DISTRIBUTION

Not threatened. Most abundant honeycreeper species, also one of the most conspicuous. Common in forests over 3,300 ft (1,000 m) on Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu, rare or extinct on Molokai and Lanai.

HABITAT

Forests over 3,300 ft (1,000 m). BEHAVIOR

Social, gather into sizeable flocks and range about forests in search of blooming ohia. Calls varied, include squeaks, whistles, raspings, clickings, and musical trillings. Blunt wing tips make a loud and distinctive noise in flight, probably for group cohesion.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Flocks are lively and obvious when feeding on nectar of flowering ohia trees and flying considerable distances between forest patches of seasonal blooms. Flocks can become as dense as 3,000 individuals per 0.4 sq mi (1 sq km) when ohias are blooming. Then groups fly about looking for patches of ohia trees in bloom, and descend to drink nectar and glean insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breed throughout year, mostly during February to June, coinciding with the seasonal availability of ohia nectar.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. However, apapane are primary carriers of avian malaria and avian pox, making them major vectors of these diseases, since they fly so extensively.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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