Branta sandvicensis

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The Nene Goose is Hawaii's State bird. This one was photographed on an old lava flow in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. I was happy to see that this goose and the few others that were foraging with him were not begging for food but were instead content with their meal of native Hawaiian `Ohelo berries.

These birds have no natural fear of humans and are put in danger when they are given food by people. It can seem cruel to not feed a group of begging Nene, but it's critical to their survival that they find natural food on their own. Feeding Nene causes them to behave like domestic geese, boldy approaching people with the hope of a handout. This puts them close to vehicles and roadways, where they are at risk of being run over. Once while on Kauai, when I had left my car door open for a minute, a Nene on a very determined search for human food had hopped into my car and up onto the driver's seat. As humorous as it may have seemed, this was actually a sad metaphor for the plight facing these birds as they try to survive alongside mankind with little left of their natural habitat. When in Hawaii, you can help protect the Nenes by resisting feeding them.

 

NATIVE HAWAIIAN BIRDS >