Discovering the Crucial Environment for the Endangered “I’iwi” by Federal Authorities

Federal officials identify vital habitat for endangered “I’iwi

Towards the end of December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its plan to reserve almost 275,000 acres as crucial terrain for the endangered ‘I’iwi, which is Hawaii’s most recognized honeycreeper that is at risk of extinction.

Last year, the Centre for Biological Diversity took legal action against the government due to their failure in recognizing crucial habitats necessary for the survival of Hawaiian forest birds. This legal act aims to protect the natural environment of the Kaua’i, Maui, and Hawai’i islands in Hawaii.


According to Maxx Phillips, staff attorney and director for Hawaii at the Center, safeguarding the habitats of the ‘I’iwi is crucial to their survival. While he believes that the Service made the right decision, he also feels that taking legal action shouldn’t have been necessary. He urges federal officials to make every effort to ensure that these magnificent birds recover and prevent them from continuing to decline towards extinction amidst the growing silence in our woodlands.

The ‘iwi bird, with its striking red feathers, black wings, and distinctive curved beak, was once a common sight in Hawaii’s native woodlands. Unfortunately, their population has dramatically declined, and they can now only be found on three islands. The situation is so dire that experts predict the ‘iwi population on Kaua’i may vanish within the next three decades.

The ‘I’iwi, a type of native Hawaiian forest bird, face a severe threat from avian malaria, resulting in an average mortality rate of 95%. Unfortunately, their resistance to this disease is relatively low, which means that almost every ‘I’iwi that gets infected with avian malaria ends up not surviving.


Bird populations have been thriving in wooded areas at higher elevations as they are unaffected by mosquitoes due to the colder temperatures. However, it is concerning that even these elevated regions in Hawaii are starting to experience warmer climates attributed to the effects of global climate change.

To address the issue of mosquito breeding sites and preserve native forests in high-elevation areas, the classification of essential habitat was introduced. This recognition of the challenges faced in protecting endangered Hawaiian birds has led to a recent proposal by the Department of the Interior.


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