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bird endangered moorhen hawaii nature


Big lily pad or small bird?
Waimea Valley Audubon Center- Oahu, Hawaii

Well, its kind of both. The lily pads are huge but even more amazing is that little black bird.

This bird is an `Alae`ula (also referred to as a moorhen or mudhen) and there's less than 500 of these endangered birds anywhere in the world! The `Alae only live on Kau`i and O`ahu and there were at least 10 of them right in the area where this picture was taken. It was an awe inspiring moment.

These 6 to 8 inch tall birds don't have webbed feet but they prefer to hang out in the shallow wetlands and were paddling about the marshes like little black ducks. In the wild these birds are usually rather shy but these guys are being raised and cared for by the Audubon Society in Waimea Valley so they are pretty bold... especially when food is involved. Unfortunately, around the islands, like many places in the world, the wetlands are no longer as plentiful as they once were. The result of development, the lack of wetlands has spelled disaster for most of our native wetlands species of birds.

Hawaiian legend says that the `Alae was responsible for stealing fire from the Gods and bringing fire to the Hawaiian people. As punishment for his deed the Demi-God Maui caught `Alae and rubbed its face and beak in a fiery coal leaving the red shield it bears today.

The success of the Audubon Society in raising and breeding these birds is a real hopeful sign that if we can restore the ecosystems the endangered species from birds to fish to plants may have a chance to recover. Let's hope that the `Alae at least is on its way to being a much more common sight in Hawaii.
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Comments on this photo:

Oct 15 2004 08:23 GMT Pondy PRO
Excellent! That's todays bit of knowledge digested.. :)
Oct 16 2004 01:18 GMT glimmer
Beautiful, thanks.
Oct 16 2004 08:47 GMT Pueo PRO
I didn't intend to be so long in the caption but its such a compelling story.

It was really pretty exciting. In the future I'll post a picture of me feeding some of them. I didn't take the picture but its a better picture of these little birds.
Oct 16 2004 16:31 GMT PennyLane PRO
Oh, do post a photo of you feeding them! That would be great to see! This photo is beautiful though.
Oct 18 2004 03:53 GMT Pueo PRO
The next picture there is the one with me feeding them.
Apr 17 2006 20:31 GMT beijaflor
Apr 26 2006 08:28 GMT Pueo PRO
Interesting little bird isn't it?
Jul 06 2006 15:42 GMT LittleDaisy
thats great story about them! i was more curious about your description instead of watching your picture :D i shouldnt.. cos your photography is excellent!
Jul 06 2006 15:56 GMT olala1
great picture and comments
Jul 06 2006 22:35 GMT Pueo PRO
I try to do a good balance of photo and description. I think it helps to explain the photos to give people greater apprecaiation
Oct 01 2009 16:57 GMT Garmt
Great picture lovely Nice shot.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jul 08 2010 01:16 GMT Pueo PRO
Thanks Garmt