Hawaii’s Endangered Birds: Wake Up, Already!

Travel Blog  •  Pam Mandel  •  03.23.09 | 11:00 AM ET

Photo by quinn.anya via Flickr (Creative Commons).

I’m as surprised as anyone to find myself turning into a bird watcher—it’s a short walk from where I am to high-waisted cargo pants, a vest full of pockets and a pair of binoculars that will allow me to see well into the next county. (I kid, I kid. Bird watchers come in all shapes, sizes and victims of fashion.) My affection for all things avian is why I was saddened to read the report on Hawaii’s failing bird population.

From the AP

One-third of the nation’s endangered birds are in Hawaii, said the report issued Thursday by the Interior Department. Thirty-one Hawaiian bird species are listed as endangered, more than anywhere else in the country.

Birds are a critical part of any visit to Hawaii—the moment the sun pops over the horizon, the birds go off, alarm clock style, making all kinds of racket until they are sure you are good and awake, settling down to spend their days in a less disruptive way once you’ve given up the earplugs, found a cup of coffee and admitted defeat. Maybe they know you have to be on the pier, pronto, to catch that snorkel boat or whale-watching tour, and they are not going to let you miss it, not if they have anything to say about it.

The Hawaii Audubon Society has lots of information for birders including recommendations for a number of bird-watching tours and a list of good bird-watching locations by island.

And in case you think I exaggerate on the morning bird noise, I am delighted to present you with this video of a barely blue sky and a shocking amount of bird noise. Just try to sleep through it.

Pam Mandel is a freelance writer and photographer from Seattle, Washington. Her work has appeared in a variety of print, radio, and web publications and she's contributed to two guidebooks, one on British Columbia and one on Hawaii. She plays the ukulele, has an internal beacon that is surprisingly capable of locating the best baked goods in town, almost any town, and speaks German with a Styrian accent. Learn more on her personal blog at Nerd's Eye View.

3 Comments for Hawaii’s Endangered Birds: Wake Up, Already!

Oahu real estate 04.03.09 | 3:15 PM ET

One of my favorite things about Hawaii is the sound of all the birds in the morning. When I moved here several years ago I could hardly sleep through it. Now I barely notice it. thanks for bringing it back to my attention!

Brenda 04.12.09 | 1:43 PM ET

hi Pam!
Wow—I too am surprised to read about the decline in bird population!  I also didn’t realize a third of the nation’s endangered birds reside in Hawaii, though that’s not surprising REALLY because it has such a unique ecosystem compared to the rest of the mainland.

Hawaii Tours 05.07.09 | 6:30 AM ET

There is another side to the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program that happens at the San Diego Zoo’s Beckman Center for Conservation Research. Our Genetics Division has preserved the genetic material of many Hawaiian birds in the Frozen Zoo®, a large collection of frozen samples, including thousands of cell lines. Most of the cell lines in the Frozen Zoo are grown using a piece of skin tissue from a small biopsy, which can be taken during an animal’s regular veterinary exam.

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