By Nathan Eagle / September 19, 2017
Facing extinction due in large part to the effects of climate change, the ‘i’iwi — a scarlet honeycreeper only found in Hawaii — will receive federal protection as a threatened species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday.
Once common from mauka to makai throughout the islands, the small red bird is now found almost exclusively in high-elevation forests on Maui and the Big Island. The population on Kauai has plummeted 92 percent over the past 25 years and the bird is almost completely gone from Lanai, Oahu and Molokai.
Lost habitat and mosquitoes carrying avian diseases and malaria are to blame. The ‘i’iwi are no longer in places that mosquitoes thrive, which is why they have found refuge in koa and ohia forests above 3,600 feet.
But as the planet warms, the mosquitoes’ range increases, further constricting the space available for the ‘i’iwi.