Helping Hand for Hawaiian Birds
Hawaii may bring to mind images of a paradise on the beach, but for those working to save Hawaii’s native birds, the humid forest between volcanoes is home. In 1993, the Zoological Society began working with the Peregrine Fund’s Keauhou Bird Conservation Center to help save endangered species like the nene goose (left), Maui parrotbill (above), puaiohi, palila, and alala, birds only found in the Hawaiian Islands.
Former Zoological Society staff members Cyndi Kuehler, biologist, and Alan Lieberman, Zoo curator of birds, became codirectors of the Keauhou center. They brought the Society into the effort, along with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and private landowners, forming a conservation partnership with the objective of saving, and perhaps reintroducing, as many endangered forest bird species as possible.
The work was a labor of love, with long days often slogging through difficult conditions, coupled with the anxiety of raising birds with populations so low that if they lost one, it was a heartbreaking setback. Alan said, “We know every bird, and every bird is critical to the program. If you lose one, you’ve lost an individual, one you know.” The Keauhou center’s committed, expert team was determined to bring Hawaii’s native birds back.