Facts about Nene Hawaiian Goose, "Scientific name for Nene Hawaiian Goose is Branta sandvicensis". The Nene Hawaiian Goose name sandvicensis comes from the Sandwich Islands, an obsolete name for the Hawaiian Islands.
The Nene Bird is a type of goose. It is on the federal list of endangered species. The Nene Hawaiian Goose almost went extinct in the 1950s and is still endangered today.
Appearance of Nene Hawaiian Goose
Nene Hawaiian Goose have dark black backs, black and gray stomachs, and a series of white and gray chest feathers. The back of the neck is black, the front of the neck is black and white, while the face is black. The Nene Hawaiian Goose have black beaks and black eyes. The birds have a brown patch behind the eyes.
The Nene Hawaiian Gooses look a lot like the Canadian goose except that the face, hind-neck and cap are all black. The Nene Hawaiian Goose has the brown patch on the cheeks, which Canadian geese lack. The Nene Hawaiian Goose calls are similar to that of the Canadian goose, a type of honk. Its honk is softer than the heavy honk of Canadian geese. The call is sometimes said to sound like a neighing, and the name “nene” is supposed to come from mimicking its call.
Males and females look alike. The birds are around two feet tall. Males are a little heavier at five pounds, while females weigh around four pounds.
The similarities to the Canadian goose are not accidental. It is thought that Nene Hawaiian Goose evolved from a population of Canadian geese that arrived in the Hawaiian Islands around half a million years ago.
Behavior of Nene Hawaiian Goose
The Nene Hawaiian Gooses breed from November to March. They are most vulnerable to hunters of all types during the breeding season.
The Nene Hawaiian Goose prefer to breed on vegetated beach stands like shrub lands. They will nest on the ground, even nesting on lava rock and volcanic ash. The Nene Hawaiian Goose nests contain an average of three eggs. The ground nesting behavior and little experience with predators is what put the species in danger – their eggs were within easy reach of cats, their chicks were easy prey for dogs and cats, and the adults were allowed to be hunted by humans even during the breeding season.
The Nene Hawaiian Goose is sedentary. They didn’t migrate north to south as some continental geese do. However, they did travel through the islands as rainfall altered the availability of food. The Nene Hawaiian Goose graze on the leaves, seeds, flowers, berries and grasses of various plants.
Range of Nene Hawaiian Goose
The Nene Hawaiian Goose live in grasslands and grassy slopes. Wild populations spanned the islands. Today, the wild populations exist in Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui, the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge on Kauai and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Mauna Loa Park on the big island of Hawaii. There is also a breeding population in the Honolulu zoo.
The Nene Hawaiian Goose is the only goose species in the United States that does not occur on the continent.
Status of the Nene Hawaiian Goose
The species came close to extinction in the 1940s due to hunting by feral cats, dogs and people. In 1950, the population had dwindled to less than 50 birds.
The Nene Hawaiian Goose was saved by conservationists. There is now a captive breeding program and stable wild populations on Hawaii, Kauai and Maui. There are an estimated 800 wild Nene Hawaiian Goose.
The Nene Hawaiian Goose is vegetarian, feeding on both native and introduced plants.
Trivia of Nene Hawaiian Goose
The Nene Hawaiian Goose is the Hawaiian state bird. It received this designation in 1957.
It is the sixth most endangered waterfowl species in the world.
Larger cousins of the Nene Hawaiian Goose, the Giant Hawaiian goose and nene-nui, used to exist. The nene-nui lived on Maui. The giant Canadian goose was up to four feet tall and lived only on the big island. Both of those species are already extinct.