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Pezzillo Hosmer ʻApapane-2.jpg
'Apapane on pilo
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Carduelinae
Genus: Himatione
H. sanguinea
Binomial name
Himatione sanguinea
(Gmelin, 1788)

Himatione sanguinea sanguinea

The ʻApapane (Himatione sanguinea) is a species of Hawaiian honeycreeper that is endemic to Hawaii. They live on the islands of Hawaiʻi, Maui, Lānaʻi, Kauaʻi, Molokaʻi and Oʻahu.

ʻApapane forage in the canopies of ʻōhiʻa (Metrosideros polymorpha) trees, drinking nectar from the flowers and simultaneously pollinating them. Hawaiians used red feathers from primarily ʻIʻiwi, but also used ʻApapane feathers to adorn the ʻahuʻula (capes), mahiole (helmets), and nā lei hulu (feather leis) of aliʻi (Hawaiian nobility). [2]


ʻApapane are small at 13 cm (5.1 in) when fully grown. There is a distinct gender difference in size, male ʻApapane have a mass 16 g (0.56 oz), while females average 14.4 g (0.51 oz).[3] Adult ʻApapane are bright crimson and have distinct white undertail-coverts and lower abdomen. 'Apapane are often seen with a tail-up posture, showing off its white feathers.


'Apapane are active singers. There is a lot of variation in calls and songs, but phrases are often repeated. They are known to sing at a perch for 10-30 second intervals, and it may include repeated squeaks, whistles, rasps, melodic trills, and clicking sounds. [3]


ʻApapane are often found in the outer canopy of ʻōhiʻa (Metrosideros polymorpha) trees feeding on nectar. They also glean insects and spiders from leaves and small twigs in the canopy; they do not forage on the ground. In 1953, a study of 63 'Apapane found that 87% of them had butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) in their stomachs; 75% had eaten hoppers (Homoptera); 60% ate lacewing larvae (Neuroptera); and 43% had recently consumed spiders (Arachnida). [4] Other native trees 'Apapane use for foraging are māmane (Sophora chrysophylla), koa (Acacia koa), naio (Myoporum sandwicense), kōlea (Myrsine lessertiana), alani (Melicope sp.), kanawao (Broussaisia arguta), koki'o ke'oke'o (Hibiscus arnottianus), and 'ōlapa (Cheirodendron trigynum). [3]


Juvenile ʻapapane

The breeding season starts in Oct/Nov and peaks February through June. ʻApapane nests are often on the terminal branch of ʻōhiʻa (Metrosideros polymorpha); nests have been found in tree cavities and lava tubes as well as in the top of koa (Acacia koa), kāwaʻu (Ilex anomala) and hapuʻu (Cibotium tree ferns).[3] The female lays 1-4 eggs and incubates for 13 days.[3] Interestingly, during incubation the male does not visit the nest but will feed the female when she is away from the nest. [3] While the female does not sing or call from the nest, she locates her singing male and begs for food. [3] Once the eggs hatch, nestlings are fed by both parents. [3] Young 'Apapane are dependent on their parents for less than 4 months. [3]

Habitat and Distribution[edit]

ʻApapane are found in high-elevation native mesic and wet forests dominated by ʻōhiʻa (Metrosideros polymorpha) and koa (Acacia koa) trees. Their range is extensive and their densities change as they move around in search of flowering ʻōhiʻa. They are detected at low elevations on most islands, however, most ʻApapane are found at elevations above 4,100 feet (1,200 m), where there are fewer mosquitoes. 'Apapane live on the islands of Hawaiʻi (~86% of the population: 1,080,000 ± 25,000 est. 1986), Maui (228,480 ± 19,855 est. 2017 for East Maui[5] and 20,521 ± 1,687 est. 2009 for West Maui [6]), Kauaʻi (98,506 est. 2012[7]), Molokaʻi (38,643 ± 2,360 est. 1979), Oʻahu (24,000 ± 2,600 est. 1991), and Lānaʻi (540 ± 213 est. 1979).[6] Their populations are stable and are considered a species of least concern by IUCN.[1]

Threats and Conservation[edit]

The main threats for 'Apapane are habitat loss, disease and the introduction of alien species. ‘Apapane can be found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands except, Niihau and Kaho’olawe, where it is primarily found at high elevations where rates of avian malaria are comparatively low. The species is also threatened by non-native mammalian predators like Small Indian Mongooses (Herpestes javanicus), Rats (Rattus spp.), and feral cats (Felis catus). ‘Apapane are the most abundant honeycreeper species with the largest range. The total population has been estimated at more than 1.5 million individuals with the largest populations on Hawaii and Maui Islands. The species has the highest reported prevalence of avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum) but mortality is lower than most other honeycreeper species. This may be in part because seasonal migrations to lower elevation forest put it in contact with mosquitoes, which are less common at higher elevation.[3] Malaria is a blood parasite, and death is usually cause by anemia, the loss of red blood cells. Like other honeycreepers, fowlpox (Poxvirus avium) may also be lethal to ʻApapane, which, like avian malaria, is transmitted by mosquitoes. Fowlpox causes wart-like lesions to form around the bird's eyes, beak, legs, or feet, inhibiting feeding, seeing, or perching. It is believed that at least a small portion of the population is becoming resistant to malaria, as some pairs have been seen breeding in mid-elevation forests, ~300m, where the rate of malaria transmission is high.

Today there are no direct actions being taken concerning this species, however anything that is being done to help rarer species of birds throughout Hawaii will also help the ʻApapane. Organizations throughout the islands have established nature reserves to protect native habitat. Fencing off sections of land to keep out feral ungulates, especially pigs, goats and axis deer enables native plants to recover from overgrazing and ungulate damage and helps restore native bird habitat.

In recent years another threat has put native bird habitat at risk. Conservation groups are diligently working to reduce the risk of spreading a disease called Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD)[8]. This disease along with ʻōhiʻa dieback and ʻōhiʻa rust could lead to a rapid decline in ʻōhiʻa forests, an important nectar source for ʻApapane.


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Himatione sanguinea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ Pratt, T.K.; Atkinson, C.T.; Banko, P.C.; Jacobi, J.D.; Woodworth, B.L (2009). Conservation Biology of Hawaiian Forest Birds: Implications for Island Avifauna. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300141085.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Fancy, Steven G; Ralph, C. John (1997). "ʻApapane" (PDF). In Poole, A.; Gill, F. (eds.). Birds of North America. 296. Academy of Natural Sciences.
  4. ^ Baldwin, P.H. (1953). "Annual cycle, environment and evolution in the Hawaiian honeycreepers (Aves: Drepaniidae)". University of California Publications in Zoology. 52: 285-398.
  5. ^ Judge, S.W.; Camp, R.J.; Warren, C.C.; Berthold, L.K.; Mounce, H.L.; Hart, P.J.; Monello, R.J. (July 2019). Pacific Island Landbird Monitoring Annual Report, Haleakala National Park and East Maui Island, 2017. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
  6. ^ a b Camp, R.J.; Gorresen, P.M.; Pratt, T.K.; Woodworth, B.L. (November 2009). Technical Report HCSU-012: Population Trends of Native Hawaiian Forest Birds 1976-2008: the data and statistical analyses. Hawai'i Cooperative Studies Unit, University of Hawai'i at Hilo.
  7. ^ Paxton, E.H.; Camp, R.J.; Gorresen, P.M.; Crampton, L.H.; Leonard, D.L.; VanderWerf, E.A. (September 2016). "Collapsing avian community on a Hawaiian island". Science Advances. 2 (9). doi:10.1126/sciadv.1600029.
  8. ^ "RAPID ʻŌHIʻA DEATH". College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Retrieved 3 January 2020.

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