Hemignathus

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Hemignathus
Zzznukupuuaffinis.jpg
Hemignathus lucidus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Parvorder: Passerida
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Carduelinae
Tribe: Hemignathini
Genus: Hemignathus (but see text)
Lichtenstein, 1839
Species

5 living, 4 recently extinct; and see text

Synonyms

Akialoa
Heterorhynchus
Magumma
(but see text)

Hemignathus is a Hawaiian honeycreeper genus in the finch family, Fringillidae. These birds are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.

Many of its species became extinct during the 19th and 20th centuries due to a combination of habitat destruction, introduced predators, and most importantly mosquito-borne diseases. Some others became extinct in prehistoric times, when Polynesian settlers deforested the lowlands for agriculture.

They have a wide variety of bill shapes and sizes; if the genus is broadly defined, this diversity is probably the largest of all bird genera living or extinct.

Systematics[edit]

The genus Hemignathus is sometimes split into four distinct genera. While it is probably desirable to move at least some species to their own genera, many authorities are reluctant to do so at present due to the lack of comprehensive studies. Because half of the taxa are extinct, such studies are difficult.

(Sub)Genus Hemignathus sensu stricto - pointed or long and downcurved bills, insectivores or nectarivores

(Sub)Genus Magumma - slim pointed bill, insectivore

(Sub)Genus Akialoa - long and downcurved bills, primarily nectarivores

(Sub)Genus Heterorhynchus - long and downcurved upper and short and stout lower bill, probes for insects