Today, as jet-lagged as I am, I just thought I'd drop by our blog for a quick update on something that bugged me about my recent vacation - but that made returning home that much more special. I've just returned from a trip to the island of Maui - and don't get me wrong - I had a lovely time. The vistas were beautiful, the snorkeling was amazing, and the views of breaching and nursing humpback whales was extrodinary. But - the birding, on the other hand...while good, left me feeling just a little sad.
It's true that I added many new species to my life list...but the majority were introduced and sometimes invasive species - not native to the island. This is the case on almost all of the Hawaiian islands. Very few Hawaiian endemic species remain - due to human disease, monoculture sugar cane fields and other more prolific and invasive bird species. While I was lucky enough to find the I'iwi and 'Amakihi - the 'Apapane and the Nene...I also couldn't get away from the Myna and the Zebra dove - the Mannikins and the Java Sparrows. And as adorable as the Red-crested cardinal is - I just couldn't enjoy seeing it too much, knowing that it has learned to eat fruit and nectar from the bottom of some plants so that when native honeycreepers try to dring from the flower above...the glass is definitely below half empty. :(
All that said, my arrival back home and seeing Northern harriers, American kestrels and Rough-legged hawks around the Refuge...seems even that much more special; and makes me feel that much more privileged to work towards ensuring that upon every return home...they'll all still be here to see.
- Jason St. Sauver