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Interview 28:34 - 1:05:52 Play 28:34 - More
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Betsy Harrison Gagné  

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Po'ouli; Hawaii endangered birds  

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
11 Mar 1998

    Geography
  • United States
    Hawaii
    Maui County
    Latitude/Longitude
  • 20.70972   -156.25333
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
    Microphones
  • Sennheiser MKH 30
  • Sennheiser MKH 40
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo

NPR/NGS RADIO EXPEDITIONS
DAT 4

Les Gilbert (lg)
it's now 9:08 3/11/98 just below frisbee landing ms recording w/ cardioid on left, figure 8 on right w/ sennheiser mkh mics sony d-10 pro, walking along trail going downhill to see what we can find

talking about wingbeats

1:07 jj
imagine what it was like when bird population was 10 or 20 times what it is now

1:22 jj
this is a native lily called estelia or HI name is pa-E-nu, although the plant you see here is an epiphyte it is not really an epiphytic plant--meaning to grow in the trees--this is the only place now it can grow because of the pigs normally you'd find it all over the ground and the pigs feed on this its an ice cream plant or a desert plant you can always tell when pigs have been in the area by looking the amount of estelia--

2:08 bg
and we call those indicator species in an area where you'd only find it epiphytically
parrotbill singing way off, quick trill, crested honey creeper, funny chuckling call

bird ambi. to 3:08, start walking

3:30 distinct chirps

more walking through brush, good leaves crackling

4:08 bg
the leaf layer unobstructed and the moss layer forms a very imp aspect of watershed 'cause either in the fog drip or actual rain fall it allows the water to perculate down into the ground rather than running off so once this has been plowed up by pigs in search of earth worm that's their #1 preferred food . . . (walking)

walking--good w/ bird ambi to 5:30 then plane overhead

bird ambi. bed--talking and airplane background

6:54 birds and flies, talking in bkground, aircraft overhead

9:04 jj
is that the same --woaa

jj talking to lg

jj--picking up so much more than what we hear.

11:22 good bird fx but talking in bkground.

11:40, 11:44 again good bird fx, talking

11:57 again, 12:05 again

13:20 another bird ambi bed no talking, flies buzzing

14:43, 14:49 LOUD fly buzzing

15:10 distant bird "purring" noise

15:30 wind and aircraft overhead

17:53 good ambi (but fly buzzing very LOUD at times)to 27:03

27:06, 27:11 close bird "purringM -good

@28:OOairplanes overhead

28 : 34 bg
its like a bio. crapshoot to arrive here out in the middle of nowhere, not only one, let alone two more to set up shop this place was like an open slate, critters wrote their own destiny (zipper opening) so you have a lot of plants that would be small herbaceous plants on the mainland that get to be big tall trees there we have a thistle that gets to 15-20 ft tall we get woody stem violets, lots of unique things . . .

29:17 we have a legal mandate to protect these areas but i really believe we have a...moral and a spiritual mandate to protect the critters who got here ahead of us and became something totally unique for the abs. unique place that they occupy in the whole world (29:31) . . . if there is some REASON why you save something except a laundry list of a cure for cancer or some new medicine all that's nice and wonderful for us but how about the critters-- they kind of get overlooked (29:45)

29 : 53 bg
'I 'iwi off in the distance

bird ambi-not very loud

30:12 cj
back in 70s you were just walking across the trail and you came across. . .

30: 19 bg
actually we were on the east honovie trail where tani and valerie went today and i had been overnighting it just sacked out under a ledge in the stream and I was hiking back up and i was looking for plants and so my camera was under a ton of plants and i was standing there catching my breath and back in the 70s in particular you'd see a whole flock of these birds would come through (30:45) ..about five def ten feet away . . .

30:57 bg
and on this low branch two birds landed and i said-to myself 'gee those look like large have the word amakihi and i turned and saw their bills and profile and thought I was going to have a cardiac arrest it was pretty exciting ... there was no doubt what it was there's nothing that remotely resembles them up here the closest thing is a parrot bill ...

31:27 bg
then while i was recovering from that these three birds that had a dark face landed and i had absolutely no idea what i was seeing--none at all-- but i did get like goosebumps and said gee whatever this is ... never dawned that it might be native(31:49), came back up the hill it was too late in the day for anyone else to go back down about a forty-five minute walk down to 6400 feet . . . all i could babble about was the nu-ka-pu-u ... thought maybe they were parrotbills . . . so Jim chacubbi went down next day or a few days later and said we have a new bird

32 : 16 bg
then tani did a drawing of it that's still the best artistic-- really captures the spirit of this roly-poly bird cand we started seeing them on a regular bird and i tied a bow on the trail that said this is where they were at 4:00 in the afternoon ... three prob most seen at once then tawni and jim described the bird and turned out it was the new genus and

32:49 bg
i think the neatest thing about it is that Mary kavana who is the author of the Hawaiian dictionary, gave it its Hawaiian name po'ouli which means brown bird with a black face and the means the same thing in latin so the scientific name followed the Hawaiian name (33:lO)and i think its very fitting and appropriate

33 : 24 bg
and that was it a bunch of undergraduates come into the rainforest and see all this stuff and it really opened peoples eyes alot of it is the case that people just aren't looking clearly in this case the numbers are looking and we argued that send some people to look and sounds like a luxury

34 : 19 bg
i know you're not supposed to anthropomorphize but the way tani views the place and the way I do and anybody else that's spent the time up here, the plants and animals become your family and they're really a part of us and i know i'm going to do whatever I can either administratively just as an individual to make sure that continues wish we could get more people to understand what we are going through and what we're going through now if it were a colder day you'd have an idea--just very lucky to have the sunlight . . .

34:59 cj
how does the crested sound?

35: 02 bg
makes bird noises******* (to 35:27)

35 : 51 bg
we started to come up with list of fanciful names for our birds ...p o'ouli "masked mollusk muncher" or "three m-er for
short "

37 : 17 bg
there's no sitting back ...

37:43 bg
a fence does not necc follow a particular boundary some have gone into each other's lands b/c birds and plants don't recog. fences ... so we have tried to manage in partners hips...^^ you try to piece it together like a jigsaw puzzle, so you make sure that there's enough of it, you know just a little golf course size piece or a postage stamp size piece isn't going to cut it . . .

38 :40 bg
if we can determine that that's it that's the last known range for the po'ouli for now then intensive management efforts for predator control or whatever else we need to hold the line that will be the priority area w/o ignoring the rest of this so it becomes this difficult shell game . . . and you don't want to lose, I know it's really difficult a little scary too (39:l0)

Walking through brush--g

39:44 bg
if you could see this on a rainy day it would be completely diff(off mic) . . . the ground becomes all waterlogged . . .

40: 09 bg
now we have one controversial issues about how we get rid of the pigs--snaring--most humane for area

41 : 51 bg
this is an old snare unit--what we do is we mark the trail with pink flagging tape

42 : 06 bg
we've actually have caught some researchers

talking about catching pigs

46 : 12 bg
out in the bogs i've had a couple of stand offs with pigs--they just stood their ground.

--cj and how do they sound?

46:21 bg
snort and other pig sounds ... smelling around like hmm you're not another pig

46:29 bg
I had one walk over several hundred of feet across a bog to me prob in neighborhood of 300 Ibs. and i thought well here i am with my swiss army knife , what am i going to do and so i just took one step forward pig took another step forward and then just went humph! as if to say huh! turned around and walked away, i was a liitle nervous but uh- if you are out in the open they're just more curious than anything, its just when they're corned like most animals they do more than stand their ground.
(47 : 00)

47: 06 bg
again this is pretty much pig free-- it is our policy only to use snares only in remote areas in areas that are fenced ...

47 : 32 bg
i get really frustrated that people don't understand . . . the need to do what we can . . . and they forget what its like for the people to come up here and work too ...

46 : 50 bg
the more you walk up in here the more devastating it is

47: 54 bg
and as you've already seen coming down is one thing heading back up is another its wet just like a slippery slide you take one step and slide back three

48 : 52 bg
here's what happens pigs will plow an area and as the topsoil is washed away, roots are exposed . . . when wind blows trees can fall over

walking, bird ambi*

50 : 52 bg
we always stop if there's a foraging flock because there may be parrotbills traveling with them as well as po'ouli and they all have those interesting little chips . . .

51: 51 bg
The first time that song was heard was when we found the nest twelve years ago this month

52 : 09 bg
and three of us camped out in the clothes we had on that night . . . we just radioed back and said "we're staying"

bg walking as talking

53:26 bg
do you have a sense of the territorial nature of the po'ouli?

--that's a debate, i believe they have a set territorial range and will move around in area as needed

53:58
the most amazing thing about the bird is that it just seems to appear--there it is--and you have a brief audience with it and then its gone ... 54:l2 although its various colors of brown with a black mask which on one hand just blends in w forest ... the mask just makes it stand out and all the photographs of it don't really do the bird justice you have to see it alive ... its just this little round roly-poly ghost of the forest (walking as talking) --to 54 : 57

55: 00 bg
but everybody who's ever seen the bird really gets the same reaction you get this aaahhh . . .

lg
what's your feeling about whether there are other birds?

56: 01 bg
well part of me i'm just not willing to say there aren't any more because the bird is so secretive and its such a shot in the dark to be in the right place at the right time . . . still alot of territory out there . . .

56:37 bg
i myself am not personally willing to say there are only three birds that may be the case but i think until there's a more exhaustive search effort part of me says we stand a chance,

56 : 53 bg
part of me says oh, i guess we are going to get ready for our first documented extinction of a bird i find that very difficult since i was on the team that first to see this bird i would not like to be one of the last to see it, i think it was kind of a
thrill to find the nest, its tough its a real battle between your own personal feelings and what you can do w/i for lack of a better term the bureaucracy

58 : 14 bg
its right at the edge . . . if you came to the edge of a cliff and put your toes over the edge and there's nothing below you its just about there . . . with the parrotbills and cresteds--they're a little farther back-- we really still stand a chance of managing
the habitat and keeping them with this and not having to go to captive provocation, i don't think the po'ouli is so lucky.

59:10 second voice in bkground-->59:40

59:45--1:00:05 walking

more walking

58:54 bg
when you look at a forest there's no one-- there's no one silver bullet to cure, there's no one size fits all for a management scheme you what you do is depending on the resources (voice in background)

1:02:50 bg
i just get so tired oh you're the boss so you have to crank out the paperwork and i think part of the problem is that when you have the decision makers that either haven't been out here or its been so long since they've been out in the field they forget what its like to work out here what the needs truly are-- i'm determined to not be that way-- as i call it remember the resources...

walking through brush

1:05:09 bg
actually the way we found the nest back in 1986 was an extraterritorial search, we weren't seeing the birds where we used to see them ... the three of us went one ridge over looking for the dense understory ... working up here you have to have some familiarity w/ the habitat and

1:05:48 bg
a large part of its being in the right place at the right time ...period

walking

1:06:03 TAPE ENDS

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