Significance to humans

Ancient Hawaiians made brilliant royal cloaks, mostly yellow and crimson, from thousands, if not millions, of tiny feathers of honeycreepers and other endemic birds of Hawaii. The practice has long been discontinued, but the honey-creepers earn their keep by pollinating ohia and other native plants and keeping the insect populations in check. Besides rendering those ecosystem services, they have become dependable ecotourism magnets. Their main value may be educational, as a visible, instructional living example of adaptive radiation. Finally, as poignant visions of endangered life, hon-eycreepers have become rallying symbols for conservation.

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1. Lanai hookbill (Dysmorodrepanis munroi); 2. Anianiau (Viridonia parvus); 3. Akohekohe (Palmeria dolei); 4. Po'ouli (Melamprosops phaeosoma); 5. Apapane (Himatione sanguinea); 6. Akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi); 7. Akepa (Loxops coccineus); 8. Palila (Loxioides bailleui); 9. Greater koa finch (Psittirostra palmeri); 10. Laysan finch (Psittirostra cantans). (Illustration by Patricia Ferrer)

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