shaken & stirred

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the disappearance of a bird

The po'ouli is apparently gone for good:

The people who try to save endangered species in Hawaii are immune to despair. They have to be, to keep doing what they do. They dangle on ropes from 3,000-foot sea cliffs on Molokai to brush pollen on a flower whose only natural pollinator - some unknown bird or insect - has died out. They trudge into remote forests to play taped bird calls, hoping that a survivor of a vanished species will reply. Or they capture and tend one small bird, old for its kind and missing an eye, then spend fruitless months searching for another to be its mate.

That bird, a po'ouli, the last known member of its genus and species, died in its cage on Maui on Nov. 26. The news, briefly noted in the papers, was another milestone in a long-running environmental catastrophe that is engulfing the islands.

The po'ouli was only discovered in 1973 -- a short known lifespan, to be sure. You can listen to an NPR Radio Expedition from 1998 about attempts to save the bird.

Even though I knew it was a slim chance, I kept my eyes peeled for one when I visited Haleakala. Next time, I won't have to bother. Seems trite to say how sad that is.


Wikipedia on po'ouli
picture here
Song of the Dodo by David Quammen


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