In the popular imagination, Hawaii is a tropical paradise. (No, not a magical place—you’re thinking of Tahiti, Agent Coulson.) But it’s not always so wonderful for native flora and fauna.
Take birds. The endemics that have inhabited the islands from time immemorial are threatened. In particular, the honeycreepers of Kaua’i are at risk of being wiped out, due to disease-spreading mosquitoes. With climate change appearing to expand the skeeters’ range, according to recent research in Science Advances, the birds have fewer safe places to hide. (Translation: If these birds, as well as the Puaiohi thrush or the Kaua’i ’elepaio monarch flycatcher, are on your bucket list, start planning your Hawaiian vacation now, before they’re gone for good.)
On the other hand, things are looking up, slowly, for the Hawaiian Crow (like the one above photographed by Jack Jeffrey for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service). Currently extinct in the wild, the species is the subject of an intensive breeding program in captivity, and hopes are high to release some birds back into their native Hawaiian habitat later this year. Further, a new scientific study suggests that these crows may have an advantage over other avians—like their cousins, the New Caledonian Crows, they are revealed to be tool users.
And if you’re lucky enough to be on the island of Hawaii next weekend (Sept. 24-25), you’ll definitely want to hit up the island’s first-ever birding festival. The festival includes a chance to check out the brand-new Hawaii Island Coast-to-Coast Birding Trail, which stretches from Kona to Hilo, as well as to hop on board a pelagic cruise. You’ll be the envy of the rest of us contending with drab and confusing fall warblers. Aloha!