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Cody Yamaguchi's picture

‘I’iwi

One of the last remaining Honeycreeper species left in the state of Hawai’i. ‘I’iwi (Vestiaria coccinea)

The adult ʻiʻiwi is mostly scarlet, with black wings and tail and a long, curved, salmon-colored bill used primarily for drinking nectar. The contrast of the red and black plumage with surrounding green foliage makes the ʻiʻiwi one of Hawaiʻi's most easily seen native birds. Younger birds have golden plumage with more spots and ivory bills and were mistaken for a different species by early naturalists. Observations of young birds moulting into adult plumage resolved this confusion.

Along with the Hawaiʻi Mamo, ʻiʻiwi were used in the feather trade. The ʻiʻiwi's feathers were highly prized by Hawaiian aliʻi (nobility) for use in decorating ʻahuʻula (feather cloaks) and mahiole (feathered helmets), and such uses gave the species its original scientific name: Vestiaria, which comes from the Latin for "clothing", and coccinea meaning "scarlet-colored". (In 2015 the IOC World Bird List moved the ʻiʻiwi from genus Vestiaria to Drepanis because of the close relationship between the ʻiʻiwi and the two species of mamo; Drepanis comes from the Greek for sickle, a reference to the shape of the beak.)

The bird is often mentioned in Hawaiian folklore. The Hawaiian song "Sweet Lei Mamo" includes the line "The ʻiʻiwi bird, too, is a friend".

Canon 7D Mark II
600mm · f/6.3 · 1/1600s · ISO 800
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