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Conservation status Near threatened
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Drepanididae
Genus: Vestiaria
Jarocki, 1821
Species: V. coccinea
Binomial name
Vestiaria coccinea
(Forster, 1780)

The ‘I‘iwi (Vestiaria coccinea) or Scarlet Hawaiian Honeycreeper is a Hawaiian bird of the family Drepanididae, and the only member of the genus Vestiaria. One of the most plentiful species of this family, which includes many endangered or extinct species, the ‘I‘iwi is one of the most recognized animals and symbols of Hawai‘i. It is found on all the main islands of Hawai‘i, however since the 1800s its range has become far more restricted due to introduced species and diseases. Now the ‘I‘iwi can be found at higher elevations where native forest ecosystems still exist more or less intact and temperatures are generally too cool for mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. They are rare or absent at lower elevations, even where native forests are in good condition. The species has a very high mortality rate from avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum): in a series of challenge experiments, more than half the birds died from a single infected mosquito-bite.

It is mainly red in color, with a long curved red bill, which it uses to drink nectar. The wings and tail are black. The feathers were highly prized by Hawaiian ali‘i (nobles) for use in decorating ‘ahu‘ula (capes) and mahiole (helmets).

Although the long bill of the ‘I‘iwi apparently evolved for feeding on nectar in long curved flowers, they now depend on nectar from ‘ohi‘a trees (Metrosideros polymorpha), which have tiny flowers. ‘I‘iwi bill size has apparently shrunk in the past 100 years due to this change in food supply.


  • BirdLife International (2004). Vestiaria coccinea. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is near threatened

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.