Threats of All Shapes and Sizes

A small vial held up to the sky contains one adult mosquito floating in clear liquid
Mosquitoes, an invasive species in Hawaiʻi, pose a significant threat to native birds.

NPS Photo

Maui’s forest birds are in trouble. When humans arrived to Hawaiʻi they brought dozens of new species with them—some intentional, others not. Feral pigs, cats, rats, and mongooses can destroy habitat and prey on native species. However, it's becoming clearer that one of the smallest animals introduced here is having the largest impact on Hawaiian honeycreepers.

Mosquitoes are doing the most damage to our forest birds because of diseases they carry. Avian malaria in particular has caused the numbers of forest birds to drop dramatically in recent decades, and the problem is getting worse.

Many forest birds, like the ʻākohekohe, live at high elevations where the climate is normally too cold for mosquitos to thrive. Unfortunately, as temperatures have increased in recent years due to global climate change, mosquitoes are moving higher and higher up the mountain; these safe places for our forest birds are shrinking. While the ʻapapane and Hawaiʻi ʻamakihi may be showing some signs of tolerance to avian malaria, others, like the kiwikiu and ‘iʻiwi, are more at risk. Today, the forest birds have been pushed as high as they can go, but the climate continues to change. Time is running out.

 

Last updated: June 30, 2021

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Mailing Address:

Haleakalā National Park
PO Box 369

Makawao, HI 96768

Phone:

(808) 572-4400

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