Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hawaiian Geese

You are probably wondering why a nice basenji girl from Missouri would write about Hawaiian Geese in her blog.  Well, I will tell you:  Mom made me do it!  And the reason Mom made me do it is because on Saturday Mom went to this place where they sell stuff that is left over from estate sales because nobody wanted to buy it at the estate sale, and everything is half price, and Mom likes to go there and buy things, even if she doesn't need them.

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.

There used to be thousands of Hawaiian Geese in Hawaii, like maybe 25,000 back in 1778 when a guy named Captain James Cook got there.  But then the geese got killed off because people hunted them, and so did pigs and cats and wild dogs and mongooses.  So by 1952, which was the year Mom was born, there were only 30 nenes left.

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.

I have not been up close to a goose before, but Gabe has, and the goose hissed at him.  Gabe really likes goose poop.  If Gabe finds goose poop, he will roll in it because he likes it so much.  I told Mom that she should take us to Hawaii so we can see the nenes, and so Gabe can roll in nene poop, but Mom said that Hawaii is too far away, and we can't afford to go there right now.  And anyway, we have a nice plate from Kauai, with two Hawaiian Geese on it, and Mom says that's all we really need.


  1. Happy new year my friend Piper!

    And thank you once again for a very informative blog today. My mom always enjoys reading about animals and a special interest of hers is animals that are endangered or extinct. One of her favorites is the Quagga. The quagga is a type of extinct zebra but it's also a fun word to say - quagga, quagga, quagga. Of course basenjis should be interested in quaggas since they are also from Africa. Another interesting fact about the quaggas is that people are trying to re-create it. Mom says she'd like to create one out of wool felt, and that would be fun because I like to help her felt stuff. I won't tell you any more than that because I know you like to do your own research and there are all sorts of good quagga websites that you should be able to sniff out.

    Your friend,
    Zest, superstar in training
    now with NAP

  2. Dear Zest,
    Thank you for telling me about quaggas, which I have never heard of before in my whole life. You are right about how much fun it is to say their name, though! I will have to do some research on them. I have heard that people are trying to make a new wooly mammoth out of old mammoth DNA, if they can find enough of it. I think that a wooly mammoth would be a good thing for your mom to make out of wool felt, if she hasn't already made one!
    Your friend, Piper

  3. ooohh, mom has some buffalo fiber that might make a good wooly mammoth!