The native apapane Hawaiian honeycreeper was recently spotted at Fleming Arboretum at Pu'u Mahoe in Ulupalakua for the first time in the arboretum's 60-plus-year history.
The bird likely was attracted by the fragrant native hibiscus in bloom, said Fern Duvall, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and member of the arboretum's board of directors.
"It shows that nature is responding," said Martha Vockrodt-Moran, whose grandfather D.T. Fleming founded the arboretum on the slopes of Ulupalakua to preserve species from the dying Auwahi dryland forest.
An apapane feeds on sandalwood nectar in Polipoli. The endemic bird has been sighted for the first time at the Fleming Arboretum at Pu‘u Mahoe.
BOB BANGERTER photo
She said that the apapane joins a growing list of native wildlife at Fleming Arboretum, including the amakihi, also a Hawaiian honeycreeper, the Hawaiian hoary bat and the two species of butterfly native to Hawaii.
"It's encouraging because we began as a seed resource, and now we're actually propagating and making seedlings and restoring Pu'u Mahoe forest as a natural resource as well," Vockrodt-Moran said.
There are about 150 species of native flora planted in the arboretum, including 33 species on the state's endangered list.