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Connecting to Kaua‘i’s endangered forest birds

LIHU‘E — The primary objective of Makahiki o na manu, or the Year of the Forest Birds, is to rekindle people’s pilina, their relationship, with the native forest birds, said Julie Diegmann of the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project on Wednesday.

That was when Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami issued a Makahiki o na manu proclamation dedicating the year to raising awareness about native forest birds.

“I’d rather speak from the heart,” Kawakami said. “We talk about rekindling our relationship with birds, but it’s more, rekindling our relationship with Mother Earth. Over time, technology and just the hustle and bustle of life often finds us disconnected from what sustains us.”

Dawn Chang, Chair of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, said on Jan. 12 when Gov. Josh Green issued a similar state proclamation that “these manu or birds are part of our connection to place, our mo‘olelo, and part of who we are. Protecting Hawaiian forest birds is among our greatest kuleana.”

Diegmann said throughout the year, the collaborative group of bird enthusiasts will be planning and hosting events and activities similar to Kumu Keahi and Ka ‘Imi Na‘auao O Hawai‘i Nei Institute, who wrote and performed “Na Manu Eha No. 4.” The tune is centered around the four most at risk of becoming extinct native forest birds.

“We see the birds dying, and we don’t know that anybody cares,” Diegmann said. “So, to me, seeing that many people in the highest levels of leadership do care, it makes my heart happy.”

The yearlong campaign is brought by a partnership of manu enthusiasts including the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Kamehameha Schools, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i and Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project (KFBRP).

“Once upon a time, the skies of Kaua‘i were filled with the melodious songs of numerous native bird species from mauka to makai. Regrettably, today, we find ourselves with only eight remaining forest bird species on Kaua‘i — one of which is threatenecd, and three are critically endangered,” said Dr. Cali Crampton of KFBRP.

“With each passing day, we risk severing the ties that bind us to these creatures. This is why we invite our Kaua‘i ‘ohana this year to learn about our forest birds, learn about the work we are doing to protect them, and to join us in resisting extinction.”

For more information, visit the DOFAW website at dlnr.hawaii.gov/dofaw/manu/.
Source: The Garden Island

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