February 21, 2007
Macaws On Maui?
We've been in Maui, Hawaii this past week, so I figured we'd share a bit from our travels. So, Picture This...
We are enjoying our dinner in a window table overlooking the beautiful beach at sunset. We've literally de-planed and gone straight to our favorite restaurant on Maui, Mama's Fish House. Ok, so we were a tad early so we went wine tasting up at the Tedeschi Vineyards at 'Ulupalakua Ranch beforehand… but that's another story. We are contentedly sipping our Iwilei Refresher and the Hookipa Sunset when a noise shatters the laidback atmosphere.
That noise sounds familiar.... but we can't see its source. Surely it cannot be a...
Our dinner arrives. As we savor our excellent meal of the best Pua Me Hua Hana on the island (Old Hawaii Ono and Mahimahi sautéed in coconut milk, with slow-cooked Kalua pig, Grilled banana, Â Molokai sweet potato, poi, Island fruit and a fresh coconut) as well as the Crispy Kalua Duck (with mango-mui glaze, baby bok choy and lemongrass rice pilaf), we hear it again.
The unmistakable screech of a macaw, the largest of parrots. A few seconds later, a blue and gold sails down from above us and lands on a nearby palm frond. My father-in-law raises breeding macaws, but never have we seen one fly unencumbered before. No clipped wings here. It's quite a sight and we are intrigued.
Despite what most people would think (ooh pretty colorful bird, must be Hawaiian)… Macaws are not native to Hawaii but from the rainforests of Central and South America. By dessert (Banana Macadamia Nut Crisp, served warm with Tahitian vanilla ice cream, in case you cared), we have discovered from the restaurant staff that this particular macaw is a former pet set free. The blue and gold is fed by the nearby locals and so the bird sticks around. When my husband approaches, the macaw looks almost willing to jump down onto his arm, given the proper incentive.
Most species of macaws are endangered, mostly because their rainforest habitat is disappearing at alarming rates, but also due to capture of wild ones for the pet trade. A healthy blue and gold macaw can go for several thousand dollars in the US, and macaw feathers are often used in Native American tribal ceremonies.
The larger species of macaws like this blue and gold (Ara ararauna) have very long lives — often upwards of 75 years. Many people buy young hatchlings as pets only to find that a young macaw, if well cared for, is likely to outlive not only them, but their children as well. Unwanted pets are often released into the wild. Lucky for this blue and gold macaw, the Hawaiian Islands offer a similar habitat to what they require — including abundant fruit and nuts.
This particular bird looks very healthy and happy here, despite being non-native. It's charming personality, keen intelligence and brilliant plumage likely keep it from being harassed.
But while this macaw is unlikely to cause much trouble as a herbivore and a single individual, other non-native species have caused massive damage to the fragile island ecosystem. The mongoose is a prime example of a destructive invasive species.
Check out our Maui, Hawaii podcast - a video program that highlights this beautiful place!
Posted by sorsha at February 21, 2007 2:22 PM
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