So on Saturday, Mom bought this plate, and it was made by a real, live potter who signed it on the back and also wrote "Kauai" which is the name of one of the islands of Hawaii. So Mom, who has a mind like a steel trap, figured out that this plate must have come from Hawaii, which by the way, is where Bo's dad, Mr. President Barack Obama, grew up. And Mom also figured out that the two birds on the plate must be Hawaiian Geese.
So Mom said we should do research on these birds, and that I should write about them. And I agreed to this because I have heard that geese are good to eat, and I am always interested in learning about new food sources.
Another name for the Hawaiian Goose is the Nene. This is what the native people call it. Mom already knew this word because the people who make crossword puzzles like to use it a lot. Also Mom used to have a quilt that Grandma Helen made with all the state birds of the United States on it. And since the nene is the state bird of Hawaii, it was on the quilt.
First of all, I will tell you that nene is pronounced "nay-nay," which makes it sound like these geese are always voting "no" on something. The fancy, scientific name for this kind of goose is Branta sandvicensis. The only place in the whole world that nenes live is in Hawaii.
Scientists think that Canada Geese -- which we have lots of right here, even though Kansas City isn't in Canada at all -- somehow got to Hawaii about 500,000 years ago. Then after they got there, they mated with a prehistoric bird called the Giant Hawaii Goose. And that's how the nene got invented.
People were very upset about this, and they started breeding nenes in captivity, which worked pretty well. And then in 1957, they made the nene the official state bird of Hawaii. Now there are about 800 Hawaiian Geese living in the wild on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai. Mostly they like to live in grasslands, dunes, lava plains, pastures, and golf courses. I think they probably inherited their love of golf courses from the Canada Geese because Canada Geese also like golf courses.