I never in a million years would have expected this to happen when it did. The Nene Goose is the highly endangered indigenous goose of the Hawaiian Islands, highly adapted to living in volcanic mountain terrain to the point of losing it's web feet and having some very maladaptive (now, that there are pigs and dogs and cats loose in the islands) ground nesting behaviors. The population had dropped to 20 wild birds when an effort was mounted to raise numbers from captive populations and start re-introducing them to the islands. The numbers now stand at 300 between all the islands.
I had hiked to the top of a large hill on Kauai early in the morning to try and catch the first morning sun on Hoary Head. A low overcast on the ocean delayed the first rays for more than an hour (see Kauai pictures) but I got a couple of shots and I was hiking down off the mountain when I heard a "honk!" I froze and looked around and fifteen feet away stood this pair of Nene's, unafraid, clearly re-introduced birds with bands on their legs. I was floored. I had worshipped and been fascinated by wild geese as a boy, and never expected to see a wild Nene in my entire life. They demonstrated the trusting nature of a bird adapted to islands without any large predators, one of the reasons they were now so rare. I can only wish them well.
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