Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The rare 'akiapola'au occurs in only a few areas of upper elevation forest on the Big Island. Skill and luck are required to find this bird anywhere within its range. The 'akiapola'au feeds on insects and caterpillars living under the bark of trees. Its bill is one of the most unusual in the honeycreeper family. The lower bill is short, straight, and stout. With mouth agape, it is used to chisel(woodpecker style) holes in tree bark. The upper bill is long, curved, and slender; and is used to probe, pierce, and pull prey from the hole. The male is brilliant yellow with a black mask; the female is dull green with a less distinctive mask and a slightly shorter bill.