Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Native Species of the Week: Pueo

Hawaiian Short-eared Owl
Asio flammeus sandwichensis

Pueo, Kanaha Beach, Maui. 
The pueo, or Hawaiian short-eared owl, is an endemic subspecies of the nearly pandemic short-eared owl (Asio flammeus; Family: Strigidae). The species is thought to have colonized the Hawaiian Islands sometime after the arrival of Polynesians. The pueo is State listed as endangered on O‘ahu.

Unlike most owls, pueo are active during the day (i.e., diurnal), and are commonly seen hovering or soaring over open areas. Like short-eared owls in continental environments, those in Hawai‘i primarily consume small mammals. 

Pueo on fence, Waimea, Hawai'i.

Little is known about the breeding biology of pueo, but nests have been found throughout the year. Males perform aerial displays known as a "sky dancing display" to prospective females. Nests are constructed by females and are comprised of simple scrapes in the ground lined with grasses and feather down. Females also perform all incubating and brooding. Males feed females and defend nests. Young may fledge from nest on foot before they are able to fly and depend on their parents for approximately two months.


Found on all the Main Hawaiian Islands from sea level to 2,450 meters (8,000 feet).


Specifics unknown. See comment below for additional information provided by a DOFAW blog reader.


Pueo occupy a variety of habitats, including wet and dry forests, but are most common in open habitats such as grasslands, shrublands, and montane parklands, including urban areas and those actively managed for conservation. Because of a lack of historical population data and the species’ current, broad habitat use, key habitat variables are difficult to determine. Pueo occur in many areas that are managed by the Sate of Hawai‘i or Federal agencies.

Pueo in flight.
Pueo are likely susceptible to the same factors that threaten other native Hawaiian birds, including: loss and degradation of habitat, predation by introduced mammals, and disease. However, their persistence in lowland, non-native and rangeland habitats suggests that they may be less vulnerable to extinction than other native birds, especially because they may be resistant to avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum) and avian pox (Poxvirus avium).

Despite this, for pueo populations, the following are of particular concern:

  • “Sick owl syndrome.” Mortality on Kaua‘i has been attributed to this syndrome, which may be related to pesticide poisoning or food shortages.
  • Predation. Because pueo nest on the ground, their eggs and young are vulnerable to predation by rats (Rattus spp.), cats (Felis silvestris), and the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus).
  • Habitat loss may be particularly important to O‘ahu pueo populations.
  • Contaminants or toxins. Because pueo are top predators, fat-soluble contaminants may accumulate in prey species; may be related to “sick owl syndrome” (see above).
  • Human interaction. Hunting behavior and habitat use predispose pueo to vehicular collisions, which have been documented on Lāna‘i and the island of Hawai‘i.

Pueo, Kahana Beach, Maui


Pueo likely have benefited from management activities designed to conserve other endangered birds. They also may benefit from game bird management; high densities of pueo occur on lands where game birds also are common. In addition to these efforts, future management specific to the pueo may include the following:
  • Determine population trends, especially on islands where “sick owl syndrome” has been documented.
  • Public outreach and education.
  • Continued protection and management of wildlife sanctuaries and refuges.

For more info about the Hawaiian short-eared owl and other native species, visit the Hawaii Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy pueo fact sheet.

Also visit the Hawaii Ecosystems At Risk (HEAR) webpage for more info and photos.

For information about the role of pueo in Hawaiian culture, visit the Kamehameha Schools Distance Learning pueo info page. While you're there, check out the informative Hawaiian Culture Audio PowerPoint Presentations.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Public Lands Program Capacity Building Grant - Due December 1st 2009

Another great grant opportunity! Who knew there were so many conservation-focused grants out there!?

These grants are designed to provide funding to strengthen the organizational effectiveness of community-based 501(c)(3) nonprofits whose mission is focused on serving a public lands site in the United States. Capacity-building can take many forms, including, but not limited to, strategic planning, marketing, volunteer development, leadership capacity (board or executive), improved fund-raising, assessments or staff training.

Ten small grants of $1,000 each will be awarded to community-based "Friends of Groups" who meet the grant eligibility requirements and make the best case for how the funds will build their capacity to better serve their local public lands. 

Deadline for the groups to submit their grant application is Dec. 1, 2009.

More information and application at:

A young conservationist.
Photo credit: National Environmental Education Foundation.

Monday, October 26, 2009

This Week in Nature:The 5th week in October - he'e

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 5th week in October:

Pua ke kō, ku ka he'e.
When the sugar cane tassels, 
the octopus season is here.

Like the proverb about breadfruit, this one gives a botanical cue for food-gathering at sea. Again, the word he'e is used, but in this case, all clues point to an octopus. Sugar cane begins to form plumes in late October or early November, a time of year when large specimens of he'e mauli, the daytime octopus (Octopus cyani), are unusually abundant. He'e mauli frequent shallow water, living in holes on rocks and reef flats and feeding on crabs and shrimp. It is one of two octopuses common in Hawai'i, the other being a nocturnal feeder.

Sugar cane, , with tassels.

Hawaiians were first to cultivate in the islands, using it as a sweet, a quick energy source, and a medicine. Its blossoming was a signal not only to hunt octopus but also to enjoy a seasonal form of recreation: "When the sugar cane tassels, move to the sledding course," says another proverb. But don't look for snow. Hawaiian sledding was done on hills strewn with silky flowers and pili grass. 

  Pili grass.
Photo by Forest & Kim Starr

For photos of  he'e mauli and more information, visit the Hanauma Bay Creature Feature page.

Text and  he'e image taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Friday, October 23, 2009

Scholarship and Educational Grants for students AND The Pikake Fund

Some of the opportunities listed below are open to students only, but be sure to check out the websites for details. Please feel free to pass this information along to anyone that may be interested.

Do Something Grants: Did you recently create a sustainable community action project, program or organization? Would $500 help further the growth and success of your program? If you answered, "YES!" you are eligible to apply for a Plum Youth Grant. Plum grants are awarded weekly on a rolling basis. Applications can be submitted every two months.

Apprentice Ecologist Initiative Grant:
The Apprentice Ecologist Initiative has engaged many young people to participate in environmental conservation and cleanup projects over the past decade. It is a two-part award.  First, teens lead a project, such as a clean-up of a natural area or a tree-planting project.  Then photos of the experience are uploaded to the Nicodemus Wilderness Project Web site.  The final component of the competition is to submit an essay about the project experience. A $500 educational scholarship, as well as several runner-up prizes, are awarded annually to the author of the top Apprentice Ecologist essay.

President’s Environmental Youth Awards: Since 1971, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has annually sponsored the President’s Environmental Youth Awards. The awards program recognizes forward-thinking youth with outstanding ideas about the environment and how to sustain it. All applicants receive a signed certificate by the President honoring them for their efforts. Regional winners receive a presidential plaque as well as an invitation to an EPA-sponsored ceremony in Washington, D.C. The competition is open to K-12 youth in all 50 states and the U.S. territories with an adult sponsor.

Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards: Do you think you have an idea that could impact the field of renewable energy? The Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards challenges teams of high school students to create innovative products for use in various fields of science and technology, including lunar exploration, personal spaceflight and renewable energy. Teams vie for more than $100,000 in cash prizes and the opportunity to commercialize their products for general market use.

Action for Nature Eco-Hero awards: To recognize the outstanding accomplishments of environmentally minded young people, Action for Nature will present cash prizes of up to $500 to young Eco-Heroes for their environmental successes. Applicants ages 16 or under are eligible to apply. Winners will receive both a cash prize up to $500, and public recognition through Action for Nature’s public relations department. Application deadline is February 28, 2010.

Canon Envirothon Competition: The Canon Envirothon – North America’s largest high school environmental competition – is an annual youth environmental competition taking place over five days during the summer (August 1-7, 2010). Teams must demonstrate their knowledge of environmental science and natural resource management at five training/testing stations.

Volvo Adventure and United Nations Environment Program Competition:
Volvo Adventure, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program, recognizes and rewards students’ environmental activities. Finalists receive a trip to Sweden for the final judging and awards ceremony. Three prizes are awarded, including a grand prize of $10,000. To enter the competition students, must form a team of two to five members between 13 and 16 years of age plus one adult team leader. Teams plan and perform an environmental project and submit the finished project for judging. Submission deadline is January 31, 2011.

The above competition information comes from High School students interested in keeping up with conservation news, including contests, awards, and scholarship info can check it out here

Are you a film maker interested in conservation issues? This next grant may be just the thing you've been looking for: The Hawaii Community Foundation presents: The Pikake Fund; a grant given for film and video projects about environmental protection.


The Pikake Fund provides support for film or video projects about environmental protection efforts. It is a small fund that only makes grants in even years, (i.e., 2008, 2010 etc.) Usually, no more than $18,000 is available for grant-making in any of these years. There are no set deadlines, and inquiries may be made or proposals submitted after January 31st of any grant-making year (i.e., 2006, 2008, 2010). This year's grant cycle begins January 31, 2010.


 The Fund is interested in supporting film or video projects that describe:
•  conservation work that positively impacts the health of terrestrial or nearshore marine ecosystems,
•  community-led projects or programs that demonstrate broad community involvement in the stewardship of natural resources, AND
•  projects that integrate natural resource protection with Hawaiian cultural practices and traditions.

Preference will be given to projects that:

1.  Can demonstrate that the proposed film/video will be of high quality, through either a rough cut, or sample of the videographer’s past work.
2.  Can demonstrate the need for this film/video, and how it will be used in the community.
3.  Have a clear distribution plan describing how the film/video will be accessed by its target
audience and/or the larger community.
4.  Include more than one funding source.

If you are interested in finding out more, or applying for this grant for the 2010 grant cycle, visit the Hawaii Community Foundation grant info page.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This Week in Nature:The 4th week in October - 'ama'ama

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 4th week in October:

'Ama'ama, a native mullet, makes a six-month migration each year, beginning about this time and ending in April. On O'ahu, legend has it that schools of 'ama'ama swim from the leeward side to the windward side through an underground channel. The actual route is by sea, from 'Ewa around Koko Head and as far up the coast as Lā'ie. Mature 'ama'ama are called 'anae, and the Hawaiians distinguish 'anae-holo, migrating mullet, from 'anae-pali, cliff mullet. 'Anae spawn at sea before returning to the inshore, brackish water they generally prefer.

One of the principal fish in the Hawaiian diet, 'ama'ama are algae-eaters and were raised for royalty in a sophisticated, early form of aquaculture. Trapping nutrient-rich water from the lo'i (taro paddies), fishponds bred algae profusely and thus were ideal places to fatten 'ama'ama. The mullet was known as pua'a kai, or "sea pig," which could be given in offerings in place of an ordinary pig. Around Ke'ehi 'ama'ama were referred to as the "loud-voiced fish of Ke'ehi," owing to the noise fishermen made while driving them into nets. They also gave Wai'anae its name - "mullet waters."

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hawaiian Bird Conservation Milestone: 12 puaiohi released into Kauai forest

Twelve, small, dark endangered birds were released into the forest of Kaua‘i on October 13th, a milestone in the conservation of native Hawaiian birds. Through collaboration of private and government organizations, the puaiohi, or small Kaua‘i thrush (Myadestes palmeri), has been captive-bred and released annually into the forests of Kaua‘i for the last 10 years. The puaiohi is an elusive bird only found on the island of Kaua‘i, where it makes its home in the high elevation forests of the Alaka‘i Wilderness Preserve. 

Photo credit J. Kuhn/The Peregrine Fund

Prior to release, each puaiohi was banded for identification and fitted with a radio transmitter. The birds will be monitored for 30 days, the lifespan of the batteries in the transmitters, to monitor the birds’ movements and determine their survival rate.  With Tuesday’s release, there have been 188 captive-bred puaiohi released into the wild. 

“The release of captive birds is one strategy to ensure that the puaiohi does not go extinct; however, it cannot be the only strategy," said David Leonard, biologist for the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife.  “Restoration efforts also need to include long term and landscape scale control of  alien plants and non-native predators,  and we are exploring innovative and cost effective approaches to achieve these. For example, we are determining if puaiohi will use rat-proof structures for nesting.” 

Before the release of these 12 birds, staff worked to reduce the rat population near the release site. Rats are known to kill nesting puaiohi females, chicks and eggs. Other non-native species, including pigs, deer and goats in the reserve impact the birds’ habitat and mosquitoes carry avian malaria and avian pox. 

In 1994, it was estimated that 200 puaiohi survived in the wild. The extremely low numbers of puaiohi prompted a collaboration of researchers and scientists from DLNR's Division of Forestry and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Geological Survey Biological Resources Division and the San Diego Zoo

To help the species recover, in 1996 eggs were taken from the Preserve to the San Diego Zoo’s Keauhou Bird Conservation Center, where they could be raised in a protected environment.
“While we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary of rearing and releasing the endangered puaiohi, we know there is still a long way to go before this species can be declared ‘recovered,’” said Alan Lieberman, director of field programs for the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research. “We are proud of our 17 years of restoring the population of Hawaiian forest birds and are committed to the ongoing stewardship of the puaiohi’s forest habitat.” 

Using state and federal funds, DOFAW established the Kaua‘i Endangered Forest Bird Recovery Project.  This team of biologists collects information on the puaiohi that informs management actions, assists in the release of captive birds, and tracks newly released birds to document their movement and survival. 

Because the puaiohi is federally listed as an endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides financial support and scientific collaboration to the State of Hawaii to support the recovery effort.
“We congratulate our partners for reaching this 10-year milestone in successfully reintroducing endangered puaiohi into the wild,” said Loyal Mehrhoff, field supervisor for the Service’s Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office.  “Captive propagation is labor-intensive and expensive, but well worth the effort when it contributes toward the recovery of a species.” 

At least 21 species of Hawai‘i’s endemic forest birds have become extinct, another 26 species are facing extinction, and most, including the puaiohi, are dependent on intensive conservation measures. The Zoo’s Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program (HEBCP) manages the state-of-the-art Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation centers, which work with avian species that are dependent on captive propagation for recovery and survival.
The San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research is dedicated to generating, sharing and applying scientific knowledge vital to the conservation of animals, plants and habitats worldwide.  The work of the Institute includes onsite research efforts at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, laboratory work at the Beckman Center for Conservation Research, and international field programs involving more than 180 researchers working in 35 countries.  

In addition to the Beckman Center, the Institute also operates the Griffin Reptile Conservation Center, the Botanical Conservation Center, the Keauhou and Maui Hawaiian Bird Conservation Centers and the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center. The Zoo also manages the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, which includes a 900-acre native species reserve, and the San Diego Zoo.  The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego. 

To learn more about the puaiohi, visit the Audubon Watchlist - Puaiohi page, the DOFAW Education page, and the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy puaiohi fact sheet

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 24th - International Day of Climate Action

350 - The Most Important Number on the Planet?

"Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. To Learn more about 350, visit"

From the website: "On October 24th, (the International Day of Climate Change) we need you to organize an action in the place where you live, something that will make that most important number visible to everyone. People in more than 1000 communities and 100 nations around the globe have already announced plans— school children planting 350 trees in Bangledesh, scientists hanging banners saying 350 on the statues on Easter Island, 350 scuba divers diving underwater at the Great Barrier Reef...  At each event, people will gather for a big group photo that somehow depicts 350--and upload that photo to the web  As thousands of simultaneous actions take place around the world, we'll link all the pictures together electronically via the web--by the end of the day, we'll have a powerful visual petition linking together the entire planet that we can deliver to the media and world leaders."

Students at Kawainui Marsh in 2008.

Click here to see a map of "350" Actions in Hawaii. Currently there are TWENTY-THREE actions planned in the Hawaiian Islands. Find one near you!

The Kailua 350 event will be one of over 2,000 simultaneous events across the globe - Students are encouraged to meet at Kawainui Marsh on Saturday, where they will form the numbers 350 by standing together in the marsh (knee deep in water) wearing red or pink T-shirts for a photo opportunity. Organizers are looking for as many participants as possible: the more people that stand together, the greater the impact! Wouldn't it be great to have three hundred and fifty people making the numbers 350??

          The site within Kawainui marsh is called Na Pohaku o Hauwahine, and is about a mile in from the Pali/Kapa'a Road intersection. Students are asked to meet there at 9:00am to assemble for the photo shoot at 10:00am. For more about what to wear and what to bring, contact: Contact Chuck "Doc" Burrows ( to register for this important event. Read the press release here.

From the website: "Involve groups that you’re in—everything from your church, mosque or synagogue to your local bicycle group. People want to help, especially if they see the chance for something that might actually matter. This is even more important than changing your lightbulb—this is your chance to help change the way the whole world operates. October 24 comes six weeks before those crucial UN meetings in Copenhagen. It’s a great chance to take a stand—maybe the last great chance, given what the scientists tell us about the momentum of global warming.

Another 350 photo idea.

But it can only happen with the help of a global movement—and it's starting to bubble up everywhere. Farmers in Cameroon, students in China, even World Cup skiers have already helped spread the word about 350. Churches have rung their bells 350 times; Buddhist monks have formed a huge 350 with their bodies against the backdrop of Himalayas. 350 translates across every boundary of language and culture. It's clear and direct, cutting through the static and laying down a firm scientific line.

Kayakers in Portland Oregon.

This is like a final exam for human beings. Can we muster the courage, the commitment, and the creativity to set this earth on a steady course before it's too late? October 24 will be the joyful, powerful day when we prove it's possible." -

Monday, October 19, 2009

The 2009-2010 Jack Jeffrey Conservation Education Grant

The following grant is closed for the 2009 cycle.

The Jack Jeffrey Conservation Education Grant will be awarded each year, pending available funds, to honor Jack’s commitment to conservation education. Up to $1000 will be awarded for the proposal that best fits the criteria and spirit of the grant. Deadline for applications: December 1, 2009.

Projects should contribute toward the conservation education of Big Island students, teachers, residents and/or visitors of all ages and should focus on native terrestrial species/ecosystems of the Big Island, preferably those occurring at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. Funds may be requested for materials, supplies, travel, labor and other items appropriate for the proposed work. Partnership projects with other organizations and agencies and projects that include in-kind contributions will be given preference. 
See below for more details about the grant and application instructions.

A long time resident of the Big Island, photographer, and retired wildlife biologist, Jack Jeffrey is intimately familiar with Hawaii's hidden valleys and remote rainforests. Jack moved to Hawaii in 1974 and began a life dedicated to the protection and preservation of Hawaii’s endemic birds. He started working as a biologist conducting forest bird surveys for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1978, and from 1990 to 2009 was the senior wildlife biologist at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) on the Big Island. 

Jack has long been a strong proponent of conservation education and outreach. Over the past 30 years Jack has provided hundreds of informational presentations about Hawaii’s avifauna, and led thousands of volunteers, students, and members of the general public on informative nature hikes at Hakalau Forest NWR and in other forests throughout Hawaii to increase awareness of the conservation and management of Hawaii's unique natural heritage.

Jack has received several prestigious awards including: The National Wildlife Refuge Employee of the year (1997), Hawaii Audubon Society Conservationist of the Year Award (1998), Hawaii Sierra Club Conservationist Award (1999), The National Sierra Club Ansel Adams’ Award for Conservation Photography (2002), The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii Kako’o Aina Award for Conservation Education (2007), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Recovery Champion Award (2009). 

Jack has co-authored several books and his photographs of Hawaii’s native birds have been featured in numerous local, national, and international magazines, books, and calendars. Upon Jack’s retirement in December 2008 from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service he was asked about a retirement gift and his reply was “something to give back to the Refuge”. Thus in lieu of a personal gift, monetary gifts were given to the Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR (FOHF) in honor of Jack Jeffrey to establish a fund to promote conservation education and outreach on the Island of Hawaii.

See above for background info and other details about applying for this grant. Proposals should include a one-page narrative description of the proposed work and expected results, plus a separate itemized budget which identifies other potential sources of funding and in-kind contributions, if applicable.

Applications must be submitted to Friends Of Hakalau Forest by December 1, 2009 via email to as Word or PDF attachments. Recipient(s) will be announced at the Annual meeting of FOHF in early 2010. Questions about the grant should be addressed to Pat Hart ( or Creighton Litton (

Friday, October 16, 2009

"More Kids in the Woods" Grant Opportunity

In these tough economic times, alternative funding routes can be very beneficial for many conservation-focused groups and organizations. As DOFAW outreach staff is made aware of these types of opportunities, we will continue to post them here. Good luck!

(The following grant is CLOSED for the 2009-2010 cycle)
The More Kids in the Woods Grant is given by the US Forest Service each year. In the past, the Forest Service sought proposals that focused on underserved and urban youth; provided hands-on recreation and conservation education; engaged in solid and broad-based partnerships; and incorporated innovative techniques.

To see a list of the national recipients for last year, along with grant amounts and descriptions of the projects that were funded, click here.

WASHINGTON D.C., May 22, -- The U.S. Forest Service today awarded a half million dollars in matching challenge cost-share funds to improve children's health and make a closer, active connection between America's youth and the outdoors.

           In a noon ceremony, at the USDA Whitten Building, officials presented awards to 24 Forest Service applicants and their partners from around the country. The awards, matched dollar for dollar by agency partners, will top $1.5 million. The projects will help improve children’s health, combat obesity, and connect kids to the land in a hands-on way.  "This opportunity is important to us for a lot of reasons," said Gail Kimbell, Chief of the Forest Service. "We can help address troubling declines we see in the mental and physical health of our children. At the same time, we can inspire future conservation leaders, who can perpetuate the critical role nature and forests play in the quality of life for Americans."

          Studies show a growing chasm between children and nature, which has led to drops in physical and outdoor recreation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. about two-thirds of young people, grades 9-12, do not engage in recommended levels of physical activity.  More than 250 groups vied for the awards. The Forest Service sought proposals focused on underserved and urban youth; recreation and conservation education; solid, broad-based partnerships; and innovative techniques. Most of the projects, resulting from the awards, will take place on national forests, which offer a myriad of outdoor recreation and educational opportunities across the country.

          Keynote speaker, author Richard Louv, whose scientific research supports the Forest Service program and led to the book — Last Child in Woods — drew attention to the distance between kids and nature. Nature, he said, is as essential to children's health as nutrition and adequate sleep.

From the Forest Service website: "The Forest Service has been a leader in conservation education and recreational opportunities for more than a century. In addition, national forests provide opportunities to urban and rural kids; therefore they are an ideal location for most of the projects funded by this program.

Beyond that, government, with its influence over parks, open spaces, education and health care, has a crucial role to play in helping our nation realize the physical, emotional and cognitive benefits of the great outdoors. The rise in childhood diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease is a growing national crisis. All of us have a role to play to ensure the health and well-being of our nation's children. Outdoor experiences in early childhood can help get our children on the pathway to a healthy and active lifestyle."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Na Ala Hele Trail and Access System - "Trails To Go On"

Looking for trail information and hiking tips? Check out the Na Ala Hele Trail and Access System website for all the info you'll need to plan an enjoyable and safe hiking experience.

Manoa Falls trail, Oahu

Na Ala Hele provides information about trials and access on all of the major islands, including a basic location map, trail length, difficulty, warnings and trail advisories. Some Na Ala Hele trails even have signs along the way that will tell you about the area or plants nearby.

Interpretive signs have been added to some Na Ala Hele trails.

Want to go on a beginner level adventure on Maui? Try the Keanae Arboretum Walk
How about something a little more difficult on Kauai. Why not check out the Waimea Canyon Trail
Want to find an easy trail where you can see native plants on Big Island? The Puu Huluhulu trail may be the one you're looking for.

When planning your next hiking trip, visit the Na Ala Hele website to find additional info and resources. As always, when you're planning on spending time in unfamiliar places, make sure you are prepared and informed: heed any and all warnings posted on the Na Ala Hele website as well as at the trailhead of your intended hiking location. 

Be smart, do your research, be prepared, and have fun!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Week in Nature:The 3rd week in October - Hawaiian Bat

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 3rd week in October:

Your best opportunity to see 'ōpe'ape'a, or the Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus), comes at this time of year, when they congregate at dusk on feeding grounds near shore. The only mammal native to the islands besides the monk seal, the 'ōpe'ape'a usually keeps out of sight, sleeping during the day and leading a quite solitary existence.  

Pe'a can mean "sail," so the bat may take its name from the sail-like appearance of its wings. Pe'a may also mean "to turn and go," which describes the bat's zig-zag flight while foraging. Its ability as a hunter probably accounts for a legend of an eight-eyed bat that stole Maui's wife.

Though listed as endangered, 'ōpe'ape'a seems more adaptable than most Hawaiian species, roosting freely in non-native trees and even on buildings. It is believed still to reside on all of the main islands, with the total population estimated at a few thousand. The largest concentrations - and the best places to see 'ōpe'ape'a - are on the islands of Kaua'i and Hawai'i, particularly along the Hāmākua and south Kona coasts.

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

*Disclaimer: The above information was accurate as of 1989, and statistics about the number and distribution of the Hawaiian bat may have changed since then.

For more current information, visit: the species info page at, the Hawaii Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy bat fact sheet, and the National Park Service's fact sheet about the Hawaiian bat.

Also, see the Honolulu Zoo's bat info page, where you'll find species information, photos of bats in captivity, as well as a history of two Hawaiian bats that were cared for at the Honolulu zoo.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Drive for Conservation - Save Our Native Species license plate decals available

The Division of Forestry and Wildlife has the responsibility to manage and recover more than 329 rare, threatened, and endangered species across the state. With limited funds, the Division prioritizes the needs of species through planning and consultation with subject area experts and works with partners to develop and implement projects to protect and recover these species.

After many years of discussion and many requests, the Division worked with county Motor Vehicle Divisions to create the DLNR/DOFAW license plate. The Division designed and introduced the specialty license plate to raise awareness about the need to protect Hawai'i’s threatened and endangered native species. 

The artwork, designed by Ron Walker, features an I’iwi (Hawaiian honey creeper) and the Ohia lehua blossom along with the words "Protect Our Native Species."

By purchasing a specialty license plate every individual in the state has the opportunity to assist in the protection of threatened and endangered species and their habitat. The funds generated from license plate sales will be used to support Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife existing programs in need of additional resources. 

Click here to find out more about the Organization License Plate/Decal Program on Oahu.
For info about licensing in Maui, Kauai or Hawaii county, click here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

4th Annual "Run for the Dry Forest" trail run at Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a

It's back!  Mark your calendars for the 4th Annual "Run for the Dry Forest" trail run at Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a on Saturday, October 24th.  This is a great opportunity to experience the dry forest while  burning some calories on a 5K or 10K trail run. The Run for the Dry Forest supports conservation and preservation of dry forests in Hawai`i. 

Pu`u Wa`awa`a contains some of the few remaining patches of dry forest, and was once the most diverse forest in Hawai`i. Eight endangered birds and at least thirty species of endangered plants are known from Pu`u Wa`awa`a, some of which are found in few or no other locations.

This year’s featured plant is the Lama tree, a member of the Persimmon family. Lama, elama in Hawaiian, have pale green leaves with reddish new growth and edible berries. They were once the dominant tree in the lowlands of the North Kona and South Kohala districts. Today, much Lama have been wiped out by fire and feral and domestic livestock. 

There will be great door prizes, race t-shirts for finishers, hand-made medals, plant giveaways, educational displays and a 1/4 mile Keiki Fun Run. 

Click to see the course map and entry form at PATH (People's Advocacy for Trails Hawaii). You'll find them on the right-hand side of the page. 

 You can also register online at: Contact race director Lyman Perry if you have any questions:  938-7795 or

See you on the trail!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

No Child Left Inside Day - Tuesday October 13th

By now, many educators have heard about the No Child Left Inside Act, but what about No Child Left Inside Day?

Now in it's 2nd year, No Child Left Inside (NCLI) Day was created by the American Geological Institute as part of its annual Earth Science Week. Earth Science week celebrates the geosciences, and NCLI Day was created to promote Earth Science Education.

For ideas about how to celebrate NCLI Day, visit the No Child Left Inside Day webpage. Here you'll find tips for organizing an effective and safe event for your class or for your family. Examples of lessons and activities include: "Look up! Observing Weather," "Be a Paleontologist!" and "Dig into Soil."

For a less structured NCLI day, simply take a walk to your neighborhood park, or spend some time looking closely at a patch of soil. Lay in a field and look at the clouds, or go for a hike. Spend a little bit of extra time enjoying the outdoors, and you never know, you may end up celebrating No Child Left Inside Day everyday!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hamakua Marsh gets a mini make-over

On Friday October 2nd, over 100 volunteers from Actus Lend Lease worked together with DOFAW staff to beautify and clean up the Hamakua Marsh area in Kailua, Oahu.

Actus Community Day at Hamakua Marsh.

Most of the busy bees in these photos are employees of Actus Lend Lease, a company that organizes this Community Day event every year as a way for their employees to give back to the community and work together on a service project in the field.

 Actus employees and DOFAW staff getting their hands dirty.

You couldn't turn around without seeing another group of Actus employees clad in matching blue shirts and hats, working side by side with DOFAW staff to dig holes, plant Naupaka and Naio, pull trash out of the stream, and remove invasive plants. It's amazing what a hundred people can accomplish in one day!

 Volunteers picking up litter on the side of, and in, the stream.

Hamakua Marsh is a Wildlife Sanctuary, and DLNR-DOFAW is committed to the long term management of the area. To further enhance management capabilities and to improve habitat for the four endangered native waterbirds that call this area home, DOFAW has been engaging in projects to care for the marsh.

A tip for protecting the native birds. 
Another sign reads: "These birds are on a diet, please do not tempt them!"

The Hawaiian moorhen (Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis), or Alae 'ula, is one of the endangered birds that can commonly be seen on the banks of the stream. Alae 'ula is a beautiful bird with a red plate above it's beak. In Hawaiian mythology, a moorhen brought fire to Humans; the red on its forehead is a symbol of the scorching it suffered from the fire. 

The Hawaiian moorhen, Alae 'ula.

Unfortunately, the moorhens that call Kawainui stream and Hamakua marsh home are becoming very comfortable with humans. During our visit, Alae 'ula were wandering the parking lots and were not afraid of people. Part of the project on Friday was planting Naupaka and Naio along the stream on the parking lot side to encourage Alae 'ula (and the Hawaiian coot, the Hawaiian stilt and the Hawaiian Duck; all endangered) to remain in the sanctuary and avoid the dangers of developed areas.

Alae 'ula getting a little too close to the parking lot.

The native Black-Crowned Night Heron also utilizes this wetland area. Although it is not endangered, it is a native bird, and will benefit from this restoration project too.

A Black-Crowned Night Heron trying to blend in along Kawainui stream.

Read the official press release about the event at the official DOFAW News Release webpage.

In 2005, Kawainui Marsh was designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, read more about Ramsar as well as the social and cultural significance of this area here.

To visit a fun, interactive and educational website created by school kids, visit:

Visit the Ahahui Malama i ka Lokahi blog to learn more about Kawainui Marsh and find out how you can assist in the care of this special area. 

All photos: C. Tucker, DOFAW

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Grant Funding Opportunities for Teachers

In an effort to share resources and resource ideas with teachers, DOFAW outreach staff always have their ears and eyes open for grant opportunities available for education. Here's what we've been hearing about recently:

Target Field Trip Grants (CLOSED for 2009 cycle)

Ready to get inspired? Target will award 5,000 grants of up to $800 each for the upcoming school year. So put on your thinking caps and complete an application online anytime between now and Nov. 3, 2009. Only one submission per applicant, please. As part of our commitment to education, we created the one-of-a-kind Target Field Trip Grants program. So far we’ve awarded 7,400 grants, totaling over $6 million, to educators in all 50 states. More than 729,000 students have explored the world outside the classroom with a Target Field Trip Grant! Target Field Trip Grant Webpage.

Here is a list compiled by the National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA):

DuPont Challenge© Science Essay Competition

DuPont Challenge© Science Essay Competition gets students writing about science! Students in seventh through12th grade research and write a 700 to 1,000-word essay about a scientific discovery, theory, event or technological application that has captured their interest. Created to honor the Challenger astronauts, students can win savings bonds up to $5,000, and a trip to Walt Disney World and to the Kennedy Space Center. Teachers win too! Along with the trips with their students, teachers can also win $500 grants. Students have the opportunity to be inspired, to be creative, and to tell a story in this essay about any scientific topic. Teachers can use this competition to motivate students to reach beyond themselves and push the limits! To learn more about the competition, check out the website at Entries will be accepted from December 1, 2009 until January 31, 2010.

We Can Change the World Challenge
K-8 students have the opportunity to become “Agents of Change” as they team up with their classmates to create replicable solutions to environmental issues in their classroom, school and community. Student and teacher/mentor prizes, which vary according to grade level, include savings bonds, school grants, exciting trips, TV appearances and much more. Applications are now being accepted. The deadline for elementary level entries is January 31, 2010 (finalists and winners to be announced March 10, 2010); and the deadline for middle school entries is March 15, 2010 (state winners to be announced April 26, 2010, and national winners to be announced May 10, 2010). For more information about the Challenge or to register for the competition, visit

Spirit of Innovation Awards
Sponsored by the Conrad Foundation, the Spirit of Innovation Awards is an annual competition that challenges teams of high school students to create innovative products for use in one of four categories: aerospace exploration, space nutrition, renewable energy and green schools. Teams and their coaches will compete for more than $100,000 in cash prizes; the opportunity to be designated as Pete Conrad Scholars and have the opportunity to commercialize their products for general market use; and annual memberships to the Conrad Foundation, Sigma Xi, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the National Science Teachers Association—the Foundation’s official education advisor. For more information about the program, visit Applications must be submitted no later than December 15, 2009 to be considered.

Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Awards Program
ExploraVision is a competition that makes science fun and exciting for students and gives educators an innovative way to present science topics in the classroom. This competition encourages K-12 students of any interest and ability levels to imagine a future technology using present day predicaments. Students can win up to $10,000 in savings bonds for college and cool gifts from Toshiba. Applications are now being accepted; the deadline is February 2, 2010. For more information about the program or to learn how to apply, visit

Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for Science Teachers
The Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for Science Teachers program, one of the largest science teacher grant programs in the nation, and is now accepting entries for the 2009-2010 competition. Now in its 20th year, the program offers grants up to $10,000 to K-12 science teachers for innovative projects that enhance science education in their school and/or school district over a one-year period. For more information about the Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for Science Teachers program or to learn how to apply, visit Applications must be submitted no later than January 18, 2010 to be considered.

This Week in Nature: The 2nd week in October - 'Ikuwā

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 2nd week in October:

O 'Ikuwā i pohā kō 'ele 'ele,
'ikuwā ke kai, 'ikuwā ka hekili,
'ikuwā ka manu.

'Ikuwā is the month when the dark storms arise, 
the sea roars, the thunder roars,
the birds make a din.

'Ikuwā means "noisy" and indicates a transition from peaceful summer weather to the storms of ho'oilo, the rainy season, which begins next month. Another proverb speaks of strong winds: "The [flap of the] loincloth [flutters and] snaps in the month of 'Ikuwā."

Clouds, thunder, rain, and wind are associated with Lono, one of the four principal Hawaiian gods. It is Lono whose mana (power) brings forth plants for sustenance and healing, and the four-month Makahiki season, which begins about the middle of October, is dedicated to him. In old Hawai'i, the ali'i collected taxes at this time, usually in the form of food. Afterward, the harvest was celebrated with an extended festival. Warfare and work were kapu. Hula was danced for entertainment and in friendly competition with neighbors. Wrestling, boxing, and other games were the order of the day.

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989