Updated: May 23rd, 2010 - 21:01:09
| State Bird of Hawaii
Sep 7, 2006, 09:03 PST
Nene, or Hawaiian Goose
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regal goose is Hawai`is state bird. The Nene measures
between 22 to 26 inches in length, has a black head and bill,
yellow-buff cheeks, a buff neck with dark furrows, and partially
webbed black feet. The reduction of webbing between their
toes enables them to walk more easily on the rugged lava flows.
Its loud calls are like those of the Canada Goose and when
disturbed, its call resembles the moo of a cow.
Nene frequents scrubland, grassland, golf courses,
sparsely vegetated slopes and on Kaua`i, in open lowland country.
The Nene's vegetarian diet consists of seeds of grasses and herbs
as well as leaves, buds, flowers and fruits of various plants. The
Nene does not appear to need fresh water but will use it when available.
Although Nene are found mostly in the rugged lava fields of the
Big Island, this is probably the only place they have survived rather
than their preferred habitat.
season is from November to June. Their nests are down-lined and
usually well concealed under bushes. The Nene seem to prefer nesting
in the same nest area, often a kipuka (an island of
vegetation surrounded by lava). Two to five white eggs are usually
laid and the incubation period is 30 days. Nene goslings are flightless
for about 11 to 14 weeks after hatching. Family groups begin flocking
soon after the young are able to fly and remain in the breeding
grounds for about a month. They wander about searching for food
Fossil records show that the Hawaiian Goose used
to live on all the main Hawaiian islands. It is believed that they
were abundant (about 25,000 birds) on the Big Island before the
arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778. Today, the Big Island is
the only place where they are found naturally in the wild. Scientists
believe that the Maui population became extinct before 1890. The
decline in numbers was accelerated during the period of 1850 to
1900 due to aggressive hunting of the birds and collecting of their
eggs. In 1951, the Nene population was estimated at only 30 birds.
Source: Fish & Wildlife Service
Their continued decline was attributed to the introduction of alien
plants and animals. The Nene is extremely vulnerable to predation
by introduced animals like rats, dogs, cats, mongooses, and pigs.
In more recent studies, research shows that continuing decline of
the Nene population in the wild can be attributed to low productivity,
perhaps caused by the poor available nutrition in their habitat.
Approximately 500 Nene exist in the wild today.
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