Hawaiian Nene Goose, Haleakala National Park


I wanted to share a great photo of the endangered Hawaiian Nene goose that I recently took on a hike in the Haleakala National Park. I spotted these geese at the bottom of the switch back trail in the late morning. It was a wonderful site, and this is what keeps me getting up early and putting my hiking boots on.

The Nene goose was re-introduced on Maui in the early 1960's. Prior to this reintroduction, Maui did not have any nene left. In the mid 1900's there were less than 30 Nene in Hawaii. Before the arrival of Capt. Cook, there were an estimated 25,000 Nene in the islands. Now, there are approximately 2,000 Nene in the state of Hawaii. Hopefully the population will continue to grow.

The Nene goose is the Hawaii state bird. It is classified by the State and Federal governments as an endangered species. In 1907, a hunting ban was passed. Nene are non migratory, and the only goose endemic to Hawaii. The habitat for the Nene is the dry grass areas, and dry-land forests of the island. The goose consumes berries for it's water intake. The Nene's nest is on the ground, and the eggs and gooslings are being threatened by the mongoose. The clutch size is between 2-5 eggs. It's egg laying season is Oct. to Feb. The Nene has the longest nesting season of any wild goose.The male and female birds are nearly identical, with the male being larger in size. They normally grow to 5 1/2 lbs.

In the Haleakala National Park, sometimes Nene can be seen in the upper parking lot area around 8,000 feet. The birds are almost too tame. If you are lucky enough to see one, please do not get too close, nor feed them, or give them water.

Pi'iholo Ranch, a wonderful place to experience upcountry horse back riding, provides a Nene habitat for birds that were raised by the Maui Bird Conservation Center. To learn more about Piiholo Ranch, visit www.piiholoranch.com The DLNR has chosen a few areas in the state to re-introduce and monitor the Nene population.

OK, until next time, a hui ho, and Aloha!