Skip to content

Critical Time for Nēnē

November 18, 2013
Nēnē pair at Hawai‘i Volcanoes NP

A female nēnē focuses on feeding, while her mate stands guard. NPS Photo/Charlotte Forbes-Perry

Visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park now through April could get lucky and spot pairs of the endemic Hawaiian goose, or nēnē, flying overhead or grazing with goslings.

While nēnē are present in the park year-round, this seasonal window is their breeding and nesting time, and is vital for their survival.

Currently, female nēnē are focused on building up their fat reserves in order to lay eggs and survive the 30-day incubation period.  A few females have already started to nest in the park, and their mates are dutifully standing guard.  Because visitors can unknowingly disturb nesting nēnē, the park may temporarily close certain areas to give nēnē families a break from human interference.

“Nēnē are most vulnerable to vehicles this time of year.  They are focused on eating and could be out foraging from dawn to dusk.  They blend in with their surroundings, and in low-light periods, they are especially hard for motorists to spot,” said Kathleen Misajon, Nēnē Recovery Project manager.

The park has posted nēnē crossing signs that highlight key roadside areas that nēnē use. These include sections of Highway 11, Crater Rim Drive, and Chain of Craters Road. Motorists are urged to use extra caution in signed nēnē crossing areas, and to obey posted speed limits.

Nēnē are endangered, and in the mid-1940s, only 50 birds remained.  Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park began efforts to recover the species in the 1970s.  The Nēnē Recovery Program continues today, and more than 200 birds thrive in the park from sea level to around 8,000 feet. As many as 2,000 or more nēnē exist statewide.

“We’ve had a great deal of success protecting nēnē and maintaining the population in the park,” said Misajon. “But it is imperative that humans keep a respectful distance from the geese, especially during this sensitive time.”

Visit for more information. To report nēnē on the road in the park, call 808-985-6001. Outside the park, call 808-974-4221.

female nēnē

A female nēnē in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Note her plumpness, indicative of nesting season. NPS Photo/Charlotte Forbes-Perry

3 Comments leave one →
  1. heowen permalink
    November 18, 2013 3:09 pm

    I saw these gorgeous birds when I was on the Island of Kaua’i! Hope more people get to see them!

    • HAVO PAO permalink*
      November 18, 2013 3:20 pm

      Kaua‘i has a thriving population of nēnē, which is terrific. Since posting this earlier, we’ve had several people write in that there is also a pair nesting at the Mauna Lani Resort on the Kohala Coast. So it seems they are getting out and about!

  2. heowen permalink
    November 18, 2013 3:41 pm

    Glad to hear it! I was able to go on a birding tour and saw quite a few of the endangered species there. I will never forget that experience! My link is wrong for some reason –

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Gravatar Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 237,989 other followers

Build a website with
%d bloggers like this: