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November 19, 2017  |  Login

Nene Goose
Branta sandvicensis

What Are They Like?

Hawaii’s State bird, the Nene, is the only existing goose that is native to Hawaii. The Nene has a black face and cream-colored cheeks. The plumage on its neck is deeply furrowed and has a distinctive diagonal black and white striped pattern. Their name came from the low murmuring sounds they make, which sounds like “nay nay”. Nenes have characteristics that differ from other geese, and are more adapted for life on land. They have an increased ability to stand upright and extend their bodies, which enables them to pick berries and leaves from overhanging tree branches. Their toes are long and padded, which allows them to easily walk across rough terrain. Their feet also have a reduced amount of webbing.

Where Do They Live?

Hawaii’s State bird, the Nene, is the only existing goose that is native to Hawaii. The Nene has a black face and cream-colored cheeks. The plumage on its neck is deeply furrowed and has a distinctive diagonal black and white striped pattern. Their name came from the low murmuring sounds they make, which sounds like “nay nay”. Nenes have characteristics that differ from other geese, and are more adapted for life on land. Adults measure 25-27 inches (63-69 centimeters) in length. They have an increased ability to stand upright and extend their bodies, which enables them to pick berries and leaves from overhanging tree branches. Their toes are long and padded, which allows them to easily walk across rough terrain. Their feet also have a reduced amount of webbing

 
Did You Know?
To avoid predators, the Nene is known to nest in volcanic areas, such as barren lava fields.

How Are Babies Made?

Breeding season for the Nene takes place from August to April. Nenes prefer to nest in the same location every year. Female Nenes will lay a small clutch of eggs (usually 3) at time, and the incubation period will last about 30 days.

What Do They Eat?

Nenes are herbivores and feed on seeds, grasses, berries, flowers, and the fruit of various plants.

 
Did You Know?
Nenes make low murmuring calls that sound like “nay nay” – hence the name.

What Do They Do?

Nenes are highly terrestrial and spend the majority of their time on dry land grazing. They are also non-migratory and generally stay within the island they inhabit. The vocalizations of the Nene are similar to those of the Canada Goose.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a “Red List” of species in danger worldwide, lists the Nene as “vulnerable.” The biggest threats to Nenes are loss of suitable habitat and natural predators. The introduction of invasive foreign plant species is posing a serious threat to the Nene's preferred habitat and food supply. Predators such as mongoose and feral dogs pose a threat to young Nenes.

What's Being Done?

In 1951, the population of Nenes had dropped down to 30 individuals. Captive breeding programs have been established to improve populations. Since 1960, over 2,300 Nenes have been bred and released into the wild. Unfortunately, survival rates have been lower than anticipated. Large predator-free reserves with sufficient food resources are needed to ensure the survival of the Nene.


 

Nene: Saving the Endangered Hawaiian Goose

 
 
 
 
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