On the grassy edge of one of the ponds at Hanalei Wildlife Refuge, we find a Nene -- or Hawaiian Goose -- a small goose found nowhere else but Hawaii. The Nene is the only state bird that is also an endangered species. Once common in the Hawaiian Islands before the first humans landed here, they were driven almost to extinction. But beginning in 1985, Nene were reintroduced to Kauai. And the birds here are flourishing, because Kauai, unlike other Hawaiian islands, has no mongooses - introduced mammals that raid their nests.
New Hope for the Nene, The Hawaiian Goose
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[A bit of slack key guitar music through first four lines]
Today on the island of Kauai, we go in search of Hawaii’s state bird, the Nene.
The road on the north side of the island winds past ocean views of breathtaking beauty and through ravines lush with tropical plants and flowers. We’ve arrived at Hanalei Wildlife Refuge, a broad expanse of shallow ponds.
And here, we come face to face with the Nene, a small goose found nowhere else in the world but Hawaii. [Nene calls] The Nene’s dark face contrasts with the golden buff of its cheek and neck. The neck feathers create fine lines of ruffles, underscoring the bird’s gentle beauty.
The Nene is the only state bird that is endangered. Once common in the Hawaiian Islands before the first humans landed here about 1,000 years ago, Nene were driven almost to extinction.
But the Nene on Kauai may herald a conservation success. Beginning in 1985, Nene were reintroduced to Kauai, and the birds here are flourishing. [Several Nene calling] Because Kauai, unlike other Hawaiian islands, has no mongooses – introduced mammals that raid their nests.
Kauai just may be a safe haven, and true home, for Hawaii’s state bird.
[Reprise bit of slack key guitar music]
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
Call of NeNe (Hawaiian Goose) provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, recorded by G.F. Budney.
Music courtesy of Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Vol. 2, Ho-olohe Na Kupuna, Jeff Peterson, 2009 Daniel Ho Creations, www.DanielHo.com
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2011 Tune In to Nature.org August 2011 Narrator: Mary McCann