Native Bird of the Month 10/2022 - Nēnē
As we ease into winter, this month's native bird is the Hawaiian Goose, or nēnē (Branta sandwicensis). Once down to only 30 known birds in the wild, and following a decades-long multi-agency restoration effort, nēnē were recently removed from the endangered species list.
With populations in Hawaii Island, Maui, Molokai and Kauai, the total statewide population estimate is now upwards of 2500 birds. Here on Hawaii Island, there are growing population hubs in Volcanoes National Park, Puu Waawaa, Waikoloa, Hakalau National Forest, and in various locations on the slopes of Mauna Loa.
Nene will begin nesting over the next few weeks, laying up to 4 eggs in a clutch, and raising their young until fledging begins in February and March. Nene are a personal favorite species of mine, having handled and applied leg bands (like the red one shown below in photo 1) to hundreds of birds over the course of my work with this species. It's always a treat to see them, so it was nice to catch up with some old friends last weekend when they stopped by Mr. Po's house to say hi (see photo 3).
Photo 1 (PC/Coach Polhemus)
Photo 2 (PC/Coach Polhemus)
Photo 3 (PC/Coach Polhemus)