Silversword of Haleakala

Aloha,
High atop Mount Haleakala a  plant grows that is unique to this moonscape environment.  The Silversword only grows on Haleakala in volcanic cinder,  subject to freezing cold and high winds.The skin and hairs are strong enough to resist the wind  and protect the plant.The succulent leaves of the Silversword are covered with silver hairs reflecting the bright sunlight on the rocky slopes . In the leaves  a gel like substance attracts and stores water for dryer seasons.
 Blooming usually occurs from July through October.. The flower stalk can reach up to 6.ft.  in height covered in  sticky hairs to prevent crawling insects from creating damage.. The life span of a Silversword ranges from five to fifteen years.  After flowering the plant will die. 
 It's summer, and I am due for a trip up to Haleakala to look for  blooming plants to photograph. This photo I took a few years ago, and it's still one of my favorite images.


 In the 1920', visitors to the summit  uprooted  silversword plants to roll down the jagged lava slopes, also picking them  as souvenirs  These practices brought the Silversword close to extinction . The shallow root structure is very delicate and can be crushed by walking  around the plant. I was once lucky enough to smell the exotic fragrance by leaning in towards the blooming stock without stepping off the trail..
 Feeding by goats also severely damaged  plants. Goats and pigs are  fenced out of the crater area and since 1992, the Silversword is legally protected from damage by humans.
The protection of our  eco system is important in so many ways. We have lost so much that was unique to the Hawaiian islands. 
Enjoy and visit the House of the Sun, and please be very sensitive when visiting the treasure that is Haleakala.

With Aloha,
Cherie

Maui Bird Conservation Center

Aloha,


Not very far from Hale Ho'okipa,, high up Olinda Rd is a hidden gem.  
This morning I had the good fortune to take a tour of the Bird Conservation facility and learn  about our Hawaiian endangered birds.Our guide,  Natalie did a wonderful job sharing the obvious passion for their work. I learned that the  main reasons for loss of species in Hawaii are: Habitat Destruction, Competition for Food and Nesting sites, Disease, and Isolated Populations.
Good news, the Hawaiian Nene Goose is doing so well, that they have recently suspended the Nene propagation program , focusing on more severely impacted native birds. From 1997 to 2011, 750 Nene eggs were laid, 396 goslings hatched with a 95% survival rate. The population has increased from 40-50 birds in the 1950's with no Nene on Maui as recent as the 1970's. Now there are more than 2000 birds in Hawaii Nei..How wonderful!

Sadly, the Alala or Hawaiian Crow is now extinct in the wild. The Alala is considered one of the most threatened birds in the entire world. There were an estimated 20 birds in1994, some 56 birds in 2007, and now that number has nearly doubled. The significance of this beautiful bird is two fold. In Hawaiian culture the Alala is considered an Amakua, a family guardian, and this crow plays a critical role in the regeneration of native forests on the Big Island. In the wild the Alala is a busy forager eating insects, mice and native berries. To keep the captive and curious birds from becoming bored, these folks have created an enrichment program creating food challenges for them. The birds that hatch into captivity are surrounded by photos and audio of their own species so they won't imprint on humans.  They hope to release Alala into the wild on the Big Island in 2014. Birds are reintroduced by first releasing them into remote aviaries to acclimate.  

This program is a partnership with the San Diego Zoo , Forestry and Wildlife, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They can be reached at 808 572-0690.http://malamahawaii.org/blog/malama-events/maui-bird-conservation-center-open-house/  

This link will get you information, their website is mbcc@hawaiiantel.net  ( I had issues with their link.)

If you want to learn and help, I encourage you to check these folks out. I am so happy  to have taken the time to drive up to the cool forests of Olinda this morning. I feel much richer for the experience.
Let's please treat our planet and all the endangered creatures and each other with great appreciation and respect.
For volunteer opportunities, please check out my site at www.volunteer-on-vacation-hawaii.com
I hope to get these folks on the site soon.
Much Aloha on a glorious Maui day..
Cherie