The level of volunteerism in Hawai‘i is inspirational. I love that I get to share about the habitat restoration and volunteer groups here in Hawai‘i because they are amazing. There are different groups across the islands that get together, usually organizing on social media, to remove invasive plants and replace them with native ones. There are lots of reasons why maintaining a forest’s natural state is important, this isn’t all about the birds, but it certainly helps the birds.
And there are organizations that work directly with native birds that offer volunteer opportunities. Pacific Rim Conservation offers volunteer opportunities to help in daily care of translocated albatross chicks. And our family volunteers with the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center transporting birds in need of care between the veterinarian, the airport, and sometimes the Honolulu Zoo, which offers release programs. On Oahu, birds are treated at the wonderful, Feather and Fur Animal Hospital in Kailua, and then flown on Hawaiian Airlines to the Big Island for rehabilitation and healing time before being flown back to their original island and released. That’s a lot of coordinated effort from a lot of really caring people!
Volunteering is a beautiful thing! I have met some of my very favorite people while participating in volunteer programs. That makes sense though because when you volunteer you’re likely to choose something you’re interested in already and you’re likely to have similar views about wanting to make the world a better place. After all, you’re making a gift of your time and energy. And these volunteer groups I’m talking about here work so hard! Pulling out invasive plants is almost never an easy job, this is basically like weeding the wilderness, and I love that people will volunteer there Saturday mornings for this. And did I tell you there were sometimes waitlists of volunteers?? How amazing is that? Everything is mostly on hold because of the Covid precautions right now, and rightly so, but before the pandemic my husband was volunteering with The Ko‘olau Mountains Watershed Partnership, and he met some great people. He always came back tired and muddy but happy. If any volunteers are reading this, a big Mahalo for what you do!
So you can see the birds in Hawai‘i face a lot of challenges to survive. These are the downsides of living in the isolation an island provides—no resistance to mainland disease and no defenses against newly introduced predators. And unfortunately, these are all problems humans brought to the islands so humans have to be the ones to make things right or we will one day wake up to the news that the last ‘i‘iwi has died and that will be such a very sad day.
But on the bright side, a lot of people care about these little fluff nuggets. And there are a lot of passionate and determined minds putting forth a lot of effort and investing a lot of time and labor to save these birds from extinction. And spreading the word is something we can all do. The more people talk about these birds, the more they see how beautiful and unique they are, the more they care about them, the more we can accomplish together.