Kauai Oo Moho braccatus Scientific name definitions

Paul W. Sykes Jr., Angela K. Kepler, Cameron B. Kepler, and J. Michael Scott
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated January 1, 2000

Diet and Foraging


Main Foods Taken

Kaua'i 'Ö'ö. Nectar, flower bracts, small fruits, bananas, seeds, insects, spiders, millipedes, and snails (Henshaw 1902a, Perkins 1903, Munro 1944a).

O'ahu 'Ö'ö. Nectar and probably insects.

Bishop's 'Ö'ö. On the basis of observations and stomach contents, nectar, banana fruit, beetles and other insects, and small land snails (Rothschild 1893a, Perkins 1903).

Hawai'i 'Ö'ö. Primarily nectar, but also flower bracts, small fruits, bananas, and adult and larval insects.

Kioea. Nectar, and probably insects, spiders, other invertebrates, and fruits.

Microhabitat For Foraging

Kaua'i 'Ö'ö. Little-studied arboreal feeder. Foraged on trunks of live and dead trees, large and small branches and twigs, foliage, and epiphytic mats (Perkins 1903, Conant et al. 1998, J. L. Sincock unpubl.). Used koa, 'öhi'a, lapalapa, kalia (Elaeocarpus bifidus), lobelias, kanawao (Broussaisia arguta), 'ie'ie, and banana (Musa spp.) for foraging (Wilson and Evans 1890, Henshaw 1902a, Perkins 1903, Richardson and Bowles 1964, J. L. Sincock unpubl.); undoubtedly also used other plants.

O'ahu 'Ö'ö. Andrew Bloxam indicated that this species fed principally on flower nectar of mountain apple (Syzygium malaccense, syn. Eugenia malaccensis). In captivity, took sugar-water mix and, with great quickness and adroitness, ate flies (Diptera) that entered cage (Bloxam 1925).

Bishop's 'Ö'ö. Foraged throughout forest strata. In Dec 1892 and Jan 1893, Henry Palmer observed individuals foraging very low, but was told they would be high in canopy when 'öhi'a were flowering (Rothschild 1893a). According to Perkins (Perkins 1903), preferred lobelia flowers, but also used 'öhi'a and banana flowers and fruits.

Hawai'i 'Ö'ö. Apparently foraged in all forest strata from shrub level to top of canopy (Perkins Perkins 1893b, Perkins 1903, Rothschild 1893a). Perkins (Perkins 1903: 442) stated, "at times I have seen A. [Acrulocercus, used by some early authors; same as Moho] nobilis leave the 'öhi'a to hunt amongst the foliage of a Koa in the more open forests, insects no doubt being the object of these visits."

Kioea. Apparently spent considerable time in forest canopy among trees in flower (Peale 1848); Perkins (Perkins 1903: 445) stated, "frequented the flowers of the 'öhi'a," and Peale (Peale 1848: 148) said, "having most of the habits of the Meliphaga ." No further information.

Food Capture And Consumption

Kaua'i 'Ö'ö. Extracted nectar from flower inflorescence with specialized tongue; probed for invertebrates in dead wood and bark, and beneath loose bark, sometimes clinging woodpecker-like and using its stiff tail for support; gleaned invertebrates from leaves and twigs; and probed epiphytic mats (Perkins 1903, Conant et al. 1998, J. L. Sincock unpubl.). Only details of foraging behaviors and time spent foraging were obtained in 1975 (Conant et al. 1998); they are shown in Table 1 and Table 2 . Defended feeding territories. Conant et al. (Conant et al. 1998: 9) described such defense: "On 3 July [1975] we located an apparent feeding territory of a pair of Kaua'i 'Ö'ö downstream from our camp. It included several large, heavily flowering 'öhi'a trees from which the pair excluded all other birds, indicating a size-based hierarchy similar to that reported on Maui (Carothers 1986a) and Hawai'i (Carpenter and MacMillen 1976b). We surmised that the birds had several such feeding areas or territories that they patrolled systematically because they left this area for 20-40 min at a time, usually flying off to the northeast and re-turning northwest. This foraging pattern is consistent with observations of 'trap line' feeding on East Maui-by 'I'iwi (Vestiaria coccinea) and 'Äkohekohe (Palmeria dolei)."

Bishop's 'Ö'ö. Little information, but apparently an active feeder (Munro 1944a).

Hawai'i 'Ö'ö. Extracted nectar from flower inflorescence with specialized tongue. No other information.

Kioea. Specialized tongue structure for sucking nectar from flowers; in addition, serrations on tomia near tips of both mandibles indicate that this species may have captured small animal prey. No further information.


Kaua'i 'Ö'ö. Primarily nectarivorous, including in its diet the nectar of 'öhi'a, lapalapa, tree lobelias, kanawao, and banana. Also took 'ie'ie flower bracts, small fruits and seeds of lapalapa, cockroaches and crickets (Orthoptera), true bugs (Hemiptera), moths (Lepidoptera), beetles (Coleoptera), other adult insects and larvae, spiders (Araneida), millipedes (Diplopoda), and small terrestrial (arboreal) snails (Gastropoda; Wilson and Evans 1890, Rothschild 1893a, Henshaw 1902a, Perkins 1903, Munro 1944a, Richardson and Bowles 1964, Hart 1978, Conant et al. 1998, J. L. Sincock unpubl.). When species was more widespread and in lowlands, fed on ripe bananas "by hollowing them out" (Wilson and Evans 1890, Rothschild 1893a). J. L. Sincock (unpubl.) thought 'ö'ö might shift more heavily from nectar to animal matter during breeding.

Stomach contents of specimen collected in 1960 (Richardson and Bowles 1964) near upper Koai'e Stream cabin consisted of parts of ≥10 insects, including beetles and 1 true bug; at least 1 large insect larva; 1 large and 2 small spiders; and 3 small unidentified snails. J. L. Sincock (unpubl.) observed a newly fledged bird in 1973 being fed moths and spiders by its parents.

O'ahu 'Ö'ö. Probably took nectar and invertebrates.

Bishop's 'Ö'ö. Judging from brief comments by H. Palmer (in Rothschild 1893a), Perkins (Perkins 1903), and Munro (Munro 1944a), each of whom observed Bishop's 'Ö'ö in life, this species was primarily nectarivorous, with nectar of lobelias and 'öhi'a constituting major portion of its diet. No information on frequency or quantity of invertebrates consumed.

Hawai'i 'Ö'ö. Primarily nectarivorous, including nectar of 'öhi'a, lobelias, and mämane (Sophora chrysophylla), and in captivity reported to take juice of sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum). Also eats flower bracts and fruits of 'ie'ie and bananas, adult and larval beetles, flies, caterpillars (Lepidoptera), and other adult and larval insects (Wilson and Evans 1890, Perkins Perkins 1893b, Perkins 1903, Henshaw 1902a, Munro 1944a). Munro (Munro 1944a) mentioned that stomach of specimen (BPBM 6082, male) he collected in Kona District on 30 Oct 1891 contained flower bracts of 'ie'ie and little else. Perhaps food items taken varied, depending on seasonal availability of nectar in relation to abundance of other food sources.

Kioea. Active nectarivore; see also Feeding, above.

Food Selection and Storage

No information.

Nutrition and Energetics

Kaua'i 'Ö'ö. Male collected by Frank Richardson on 21 Jul 1960 "was in good condition, having a fair amount of fat" (Richardson and Bowles 1964: 28). No other information.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

No information.

Drinking, Pellet-Casting, and Defecation

No information; probably obtained most moisture from nectar, rain, or dew.

Recommended Citation

Sykes Jr., P. W., A. K. Kepler, C. B. Kepler, and J. M. Scott (2020). Kauai Oo (Moho braccatus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.kauoo.01