Photo: ‘Anianiau
The exposed featherless areas around birds’ eyes, bill, and legs are susceptible to mosquito bites. Here a brightly colored male is ready for the breeding season. - Photo: Bret Nainoa Mossman

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ʻAnianiau (Magumma parvus), or the lesser Kauaʻi ʻamakihi, is the smallest living Hawaiian honeycreeper, with adults measuring just 10 centimeters (less than 4 inches) and weighing in at about 10 grams (less than half an ounce).

Endemic to Kauaʻi, ʻanianiau thrives in Kauaʻi’s western and upland forests but is also noticed in some disturbed forest habitats showcasing its adaptability and resilience. Conservation efforts are ensuing to start a small population in human care due to rapidly declining populations, dramatic loss of native habitat, and the spread of avian disease.

This bird feeds on the sweet nectars of lehua, ʻōhelo, and alani, and gleans opportunistically on a variety of insects. Notably, the rolled tubular tongue of an ʻanianiau chick, used to draw up nectar, develops only after hatching, and is a developmental sign of independence from its parents.

Mature males develop bright olive-yellow plumage during the breeding season. Thus, their appearance often leads to confusion with the Kauaʻi ʻamakihi. Known for its melodious trill, ʻanianiau produces an easily distinguishable song from other birds, with two to three high-pitched “weesee” syllables.