There certainly are a great many spectacular honeycreepers on the Hawaiian Islands, but if there is one prototypical Hawaiian honeycreeper it’s the Iiwi (pronounced ee-EE-vee). There could scarcely be a better representative of the family to give the full Bird of the Year treatment and fully welcome Hawaii into the ABA Area.
The Iiwi is at once familiar and bizarre, its colors mirroring the well-known Scarlet Tanager but with an absurd curved bill it uses to probe the flowers of native Hawaiian trees for sustenance. But that black on red takes on another context in its Hawaiian home. The Iiwi is the color of lava–the red molten stuff issuing directly from the earth’s mantle via Hawaii’s famous volcanoes and the black hardened lava rock that make up the islands. And perhaps best of all, Iiwi is still the easiest honeycreeper in Hawaii to see. They can still be found on a number of islands, and a birder only needs to make a short trip inland on Maui or the Big Island into the state’s many protected forest reserves to hear their gurgly warbling song.
The 2018 ABA Bird of the Year t-shirt features the Iiwi of Hawaii. Designed By Paul Riss and Rachael Riorden of PRBY Apparel, the red and black Hawaiian honeycreeper is outlined on a black shirt. Supplies are limited so order yours today!