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Species Guide

Maui Parrotbill

Pseudonestor xanthophrys

The Kiwikiu, also known as the Maui Parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophrys), is a robust Hawaiian honeycreeper endemic to Maui. It is distinguished by its yellow breast, cheeks, and belly, contrasted with olive-green wings, crown, tail, and back. A striking yellow supercilium adorns its face. The bird's beak is a notable feature, with a hooked upper mandible of dark gray and a chisel-like lower mandible of pale ivory. Males typically exhibit longer wings, larger bills, and greater mass than females, while juveniles display a gray-green upper and light gray ventral coloration.

Identification Tips

When observing the Kiwikiu, look for a bird approximately 14 centimeters in length with a weight range of 20-25 grams. The combination of yellow and olive-green plumage, along with the distinctive hooked beak, aids in identification. The male's larger size and bill can help differentiate between sexes in the field.


The Kiwikiu thrives in undisturbed wet forests, characterized by a dense understory of small trees, shrubs, epiphytes, ferns, and sedges. These forests are dominated by ʻōhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) and interspersed with patches of ʻōhiʻa-koa (Acacia koa) mesic forest.


This species is confined to a mere 50 square kilometers on the windward slopes of Haleakalā, at elevations ranging from 1,200 to 2,150 meters. Historically, the Kiwikiu was also found in dry forests at lower elevations and on the island of Molokaʻi.


Kiwikiu pairs are territorial, foraging within a 2.3-hectare area that they vigorously defend from other parrotbills. They exhibit monogamous breeding behavior and are known to raise a single nestling per season.

Song & Calls

The Kiwikiu's vocalizations include a short "chip" call, emitted every three to five seconds, and a song composed of "cheer" notes that are slower and richer than those of the ʻākepa. Additionally, it has a brief song resembling "cheer-wee."


Breeding occurs from November to June. Females construct a cup-shaped nest using Usnea lichens and pūkiawe twigs, situated approximately 12 meters above the forest floor. After a 16-day incubation period, the female tends to the single nestling, which remains with the parents for five to eight months to learn foraging skills.

Diet and Feeding

The Kiwikiu is an insectivore, employing its substantial beak and jaw muscles to strip bark and wood from trees and shrubs, accessing insects beneath. It also opens fruits to find insects, favoring moth pupae and beetle larvae.

Conservation status

The Kiwikiu is critically endangered, with recent estimates suggesting fewer than 150 individuals remain in the wild. Habitat loss, introduced pests, and diseases like avian malaria pose significant threats. Conservation efforts include habitat protection, feral ungulate removal, and a captive breeding program. Despite these efforts, the Kiwikiu faces the risk of functional extinction in the wild by 2027 if current challenges persist.

Similar Species

There are no similar species provided in the source data.

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Maui Parrotbills on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Nagi Aboulenein
08 Jul 2023 - 7:08pm
United States

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