Plants for the Endangered Birds of Hawai'i

A Unique Conservation Challenge

ʻIʻiwi. Photo: Donald Quintana/Audubon Photography Awards

Plants for the Endangered Birds of Hawai'i

A Unique Conservation Challenge

Thank you for using Audubon's native plants database to search for plants that benefit birds in the state of Hawaii. Home to a critically endangered community of native bird species found nowhere else on Earth, Hawaii's flora and fauna face conservation challenges similar to those of the mainland U.S.—but magnified by the fragility of the islands' unique ecosystems, evolved in isolation over millions of years. Habitat destruction and introduced animal species and disease have greatly impacted many of Hawaii's native birds over the past few centuries: Indeed, more than half of Hawaii's endemic bird species have become extinct, while the majority of those remaining are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Many of Hawaii's surviving native bird species now find refuge only in high-elevation forests. Because of the scale of ecological change in both native bird and plant communities in residential areas of Hawaii—where the majority of bird species encountered are introduced species—attracting native birds with native plants is not achievable in the same way as on the U.S. mainland. And as a result, Audubon’s native plants database is not as useful as a conservation tool in Hawaii. 

There is, however, much to do to benefit both native birds and plants in Hawaii. Please get involved. Contact the Hawai'i Audubon Society to learn about Hawaiian bird conservation and birding events. And support Hawaiian forest bird recovery programs such as mauiforestbirds.org and kauaiforestbirds.org, which are working to protect endangered native birds such as the emblematic I'iwi (scarlet honeycreeper) pictured above, the Kiwikiu (Maui Parrotbill), and the Puaiohi (Small Kaua'i Thrush). 

Local Hawaiian organizations are also working to conserve native Hawaiian plants; you can do your part by supporting local conservation efforts and planting native species in your garden to attract pollinators. Learn more about ways to contribute, and find listings of appropriate native Hawaiian plants, at nativehawaiianplantsociety.org, nativeplants.hawaii.edu,  laukahi.org, and pepphi.org. This guide to selecting Hawaiian plants for pollinators is also a great resource to get you started.