Skip to content

Hummingbirds In Hawaii

Hummingbirds in Hawaii: A Fascinating and Colorful Species

When one thinks of Hawaii, images of pristine beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant flora and fauna come to mind. Among the diverse wildlife found in this tropical paradise, hummingbirds hold a special place. With their iridescent feathers and unique flying abilities, these tiny birds captivate both locals and visitors alike. In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of hummingbirds in Hawaii, their behavior, habitat, and the importance of conservation efforts to protect these beautiful creatures.

The Hawaiian Hummingbird Species

Hawaii is home to two native hummingbird species: the ‘i’iwi (Vestiaria coccinea) and the ‘apapane (Himatione sanguinea). These birds are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. The ‘i’iwi is known for its bright red plumage and curved beak, while the ‘apapane displays a vibrant crimson color.

These hummingbirds have evolved to fill specific ecological niches within the Hawaiian ecosystem. They play a crucial role in pollination, as they feed on nectar from native flowers and inadvertently transfer pollen from one flower to another. This symbiotic relationship between hummingbirds and native plants is essential for the survival of both species.

Habitat and Distribution

The ‘i’iwi and ‘apapane can be found in various habitats across the Hawaiian Islands, including rainforests, montane forests, and subalpine shrublands. They are most commonly spotted on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai.

These birds are highly adaptable and can thrive in different elevations, from sea level to high mountain slopes. However, their populations have been significantly impacted by habitat loss and the introduction of non-native species, such as mosquitoes and avian diseases.

Threats to Hummingbirds in Hawaii

Despite their enchanting presence, hummingbirds in Hawaii face numerous threats that endanger their survival:

  • Habitat Loss: Deforestation and urbanization have resulted in the destruction of their natural habitats, limiting their foraging and breeding grounds.
  • Invasive Species: Non-native plants and animals, such as feral cats and rats, disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem and prey on hummingbird eggs and nestlings.
  • Avian Diseases: Introduced mosquito-borne diseases, such as avian malaria and avian pox, have decimated hummingbird populations, as these birds have not developed immunity to these diseases.
  • Climate Change: Rising temperatures and altered rainfall patterns can affect the availability of nectar-producing flowers, impacting the hummingbirds’ food sources.

Conservation Efforts

Recognizing the importance of preserving Hawaii’s unique hummingbird species, various organizations and initiatives have been established to protect these birds and their habitats:

  • Hawaii Audubon Society: This organization conducts research, advocates for conservation policies, and educates the public about the importance of protecting native birds, including hummingbirds.
  • Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources: The department works to restore and protect native habitats, control invasive species, and implement measures to prevent the spread of avian diseases.
  • Community Involvement: Local communities and volunteers play a vital role in monitoring hummingbird populations, removing invasive species, and planting native plants to provide suitable habitats.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Are hummingbirds only found in Hawaii?

No, hummingbirds are found throughout the Americas, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. However, Hawaii is home to two unique species of hummingbirds that are found nowhere else in the world.

2. How do hummingbirds fly?

Hummingbirds have the ability to hover in mid-air, fly backward, and even upside down. They achieve this through rapid wing beats, which can reach up to 80 beats per second.

3. What do hummingbirds eat?

Hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar from flowers. They also consume small insects and spiders to supplement their diet with protein.

4. How can I attract hummingbirds to my garden?

Planting native flowers that produce nectar is the best way to attract hummingbirds to your garden. Some popular choices include hibiscus, ohia lehua, and lobelia.

5. Can hummingbirds be kept as pets?

No, it is illegal to keep hummingbirds as pets in most countries, including the United States. These birds are best enjoyed in their natural habitats.

6. How can I contribute to hummingbird conservation efforts?

You can support hummingbird conservation by donating to organizations dedicated to protecting native habitats, volunteering for local initiatives, and spreading awareness about the importance of preserving these unique species.


Hummingbirds in Hawaii are not only visually stunning but also play a vital role in the ecosystem as pollinators. However, their survival is threatened by habitat loss, invasive species, avian diseases, and climate change. Conservation efforts, such as those led by the Hawaii Audubon Society and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, are crucial in protecting these unique species. By understanding the challenges they face and taking action, we can ensure that hummingbirds continue to grace the Hawaiian Islands with their vibrant presence for generations to come.