On the red mud of Waipahu’s Pouhala Marsh, a Hawaiian stilt flapped its wings, trying to lure away a potential predator of its young.
The predator, Jason Misaki’s white pickup truck, stopped several feet away. Misaki hopped out and walked a wide circle, looking into patches of vegetation for the stilt’s fledglings.
Earlier that morning, Misaki caught three stilt chicks by hand and placed colored bands on the birds’ long legs as part of a survey of the number of stilts born at the marsh.
This year, the number of fledglings at Pouhala is on track to surpass any year since the state began restoring the marsh nine years ago — a sign of its successful recovery.
The 70-acre marsh is the largest wetland in Pearl Harbor and provides an important habitat for the Hawaiian stilt, along with the Hawaiian coot and moorhen, all endangered Hawaiian water birds. Hawaiian stilts number about 1,500 today. About 100 typically feed at Pouhala Marsh at any given time.
Misaki, the state’s wildlife program manager for Oahu, said preserving Pouhala is an important part of saving the stilt, which differs from the North American stilt by having more black on its head and neck.
Misaki said preserving species native to Hawaii is important because “it’s their habitat. These are symbols of Hawaii, a symbol of the people of Hawaii, the landscape and the animals of Hawaii.”
Students recount field trip
‘It Was Classic’
By Maria Angst
In the morning, we drove in cars to Mo`omomi and it was bumpy. We were going up, down, and side to side. It was classic!
As we walked on the footpath, we saw a white native plant. It is soft and fluffy. It only grows at Mo`omomi. It is called `ena `ena.
At Mo`omomi beach we saw flags that marked where the shear water bird nests were. We saw a baby sheer water bird. The bird looked like a grayish cotton ball. The shear water bird also has a short wedge tail. It rested peacefully under a flat rock.
Next, we ate lunch in a cave that looked like an upside down sand dune. It looked spectacular! Uncle Ed gave us juice to drink because we listened and paid attention. On our hike, we also saw tree snail fossils. We learned that the ancient Hawaiian people ate turtle, and that there are deer at Mo`omomi.
Last, we picked rubbish from the beach. There were bottles, cans, floaters, toothbrushes, and lots of plastic. Birds think the rubbish is food and eat them and they die.