High up on the slopes of one of the tallest mountains in the world is a distinct forest that occurs nowhere else on earth and is home to spectacular native plants and animals, including the critically endangered palila. DLNR is working hard to maintain this jewel for future generations, and this website will share the story with you.  Aloha mai nei!





Watch the Palila PSA

narrated by Jason Scott Lee

Not many people are familiar with what a Palila is and why they are worth saving. That’s because these rare birds live in remote and rugged terrain that few people ever visit. Watch this 30-second Public Service Announcement to learn all about them.

Youtube pic

Read more about the PSA


Why are palila special?

  • Endemic: Palila are a member of the Hawaiian honeycreeper family that exists only in Hawai‘i. Palila are the last of the 16 finch-billed honeycreepers left in the main Hawaiian Islands—all others are extinct.
  • Specialist: Palila depend on seeds, flowers, young leaves, and caterpillars from the native māmane tree for 90% of their diet. Māmane seeds are poisonous to other animals.
  • Endangered: Listed as endangered under the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Palila Critical habitat was designated in 1978 to save the māmane forest on Mauna Kea.

Where do palila live?

Palila are only found on the southwestern slope of Mauna Kea between 6,000 – 10,000 feet elevation—an area less than 5% of their historical range. They used to live on Hualālai, Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea.

Why are palila endangered?

  • Over the past 200 years, non-native feral sheep, goats, and cattle destroyed much of the māmane forest that palila depend on and sheep continue to damage remaining forest.
  • Predators, like non-native feral cats and rats, eat palila nestlings and eggs causing 10% of palila nests to fail.
  • Invasive insects, such as the naio thrips, can weaken and kill native naio trees.
  • Fire destroys the dry forest swiftly and over large areas allowing non-native invasive plants to replace native plants.
  • Invasive plants out-compete and replace native species and increase the risk of fire.
  • Climate change and drought reduces māmane seed pod growth. With less food, fewer palila nestlings survive. 

What’s being done to save palila?

  • A 6-foot fence around Mauna Kea prevents sheep and goats from entering Palila Critical Habitat and damaging the māmane seedlings and trees.
  • The State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources is removing all sheep from Palila Critical Habitat.
  • Reforestation efforts are planting māmane and other native plants. Did you know: sheep-free areas have seven- times more māmane seedlings than areas with sheep.
  • The Keauhou Bird Conservation Center breed palila in captivity for future releases into the wild to help establish new populations of palila.


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