Finches of Hawaii, the Honeycreepers:
By Nathan Goldberg and Matthew Young
I’d like to take a moment to introduce Nathan Goldberg, one of the new members of the Finch Research Network team. His focus and involvement with FiRN centers on engagement and information gathering regarding conservation efforts of the native Hawaiian Honeycreepers, as well as working to develop a presentation and program which Nathan and/or I will be offering to organizations across the country to raise awareness of the plight these birds face. Please reach out and let us know if you know of a group that might be interested in booking the presentation.
A little more of the story:
When he arrived back in California from a three-week trip to Hawai’i back in March of 2022, he felt compelled more than ever to find a way to help conserve these incredible species hanging on by a thread. These birds are some of the toughest individuals out there, are facing imminent extinction, and time is dwindling. He reached out to me to discuss the issues they face, given these birds are indeed finches, hoping FiRN would be interested to take on the task.
We at FiRN of course wanted to do something, and so we are forging ahead. Nathan and I have worked together to gain insights into the direct conservation actions being undertaken by various partners and individuals key to the conservation and longevity of these birds.
Our hope is to be a voice here on continent for these honeycreepers
, and to help the supporters of FiRN understand that there is still hope for the recovery of these birds, but we must act fast. We hope to continue highlighting the work being done on the islands and support the organizations working to save these birds.
Latest News and Updates:
It’s with great pleasure that we can share that a few week ago, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland unveiled nearly $16 million in funding through President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda that will be earmarked to fight the imminent extinction of the native Hawaiian Honeycreepers. The press release (accessible here: https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/biden-harris-administration-announces-nearly-16-million-through-presidents-investing) highlights a number of methods in which this $16 million can and will be used. The prime zones of focus will include funding captive care programs and facilities for native birds, eradication of mosquitos, establishing translocation programs on neighboring islands, funding additional research and monitoring of these birds, and working on engagement with the Native Hawaiian community.
For years, birders and conservationists have been begging the federal government to engage more and support the conservation of these enigmatic birds, and we are optimistic that they finally are going to help. Sadly, as many of us know, it’s already too late for a number of species that once called these islands home.
Between 1778 and 2004, the world lost 23 species of Hawaiian birds, most due to mosquito-born malaria. 2004 was the last year the Maui endemic Po’ouli was ever seen, sadly found by modern science in 1973.
2023 may be a new benchmark year, as studies have shown that aside from a few known birds left deep in the native Kaua’i forests, the endemic ‘Akikiki is now extinct in the wild. Its only hope now is either to be translocated to protected habitat on the Big Island (which is safe from mosquitos at high elevation), or that new mosquito control methods will take effect on Kaua’i soon and the birds can be released from captivity. The clock is ticking sadly, and many are unsure how it and other species will fare given their already incredibly low numbers.
Now is a time for us to come together and support Hawaiian bird conservation efforts. It’s important we share this information far and wide. FiRN applauds the federal government for their recent funding support, and we hope more organizations will get involved and come to the aid of these incredible birds. They need all the help they can get!
Too help the the honeycreepers please visit here to read about organizations working hard to save the honeycreepers, finches of Hawaii.
Here is a link to the shirts sold in the shop (including a honeycreeper shirt):
FiRN is a nonprofit, and has been granted 501c3 status. FiRN is committed to researching and protecting these birds and other threatened finch species like the Evening Grosbeak, Rosy-finches, and Hawaii’s finches. and if you have been enjoying all the blogs and identifying of Evening Grosbeak and Red Crossbill call types (upwards of 15,000 recordings listened to), redpoll subspecies and green morph Pine Siskins FiRN has helped with over the years, please think about supporting our efforts and making a small donation at the donate link below.