The Nēnē, Hawai’i’s state bird, is an endangered species found on the islands of Hawai’i and Maui, with some now on O’ahu. A handsome bird with a dark head and striped neck, it is very approachable in the wild and utters a pleasing soft vocalization.
The non-migratory nēnē (sometimes called Hawaiian goose) nests often in a kipuka, patches of grass and shrubs surrounded by lava. Scientists believe that its ancestor is the Canada goose which accidentally migrated to Hawai’i long ago.
There were originally at least seven kinds of geese in Hawai’i. Nēnē were probably found on all eight main islands at both high and low elevations. By the time Captain Cook arrived in 1778, all but the nēnē were probably extinct.
About 25,000 nēnē were present then, mostly at higher elevations on two islands. By 1950, fewer than 50 birds remained. This was the result of introduced predators, grazing animals, hunting and other disturbances of the nēnē habitat.
As a result of an intensive captive breeding program and greater consciousness about protecting this endangered bird, there are now several hundred nēnē in the wild. Man’s help and understanding is vital if this endangered native species is to be preserved.
A portion of this purchase price is donated to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park resources management program to fund continued research and management activities to assist in the preservation of this species.