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Manu Minute: The Long-legged Ae'o

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Ann Tanimoto-Johnson
Aeʻo stand about 16 inches tall, have glossy black backs, bright white fronts, and long pink legs that allow them to wade into deep water looking for crustaceans and worms.

The ae'o, also known as kūkuluae'o, or Hawaiian stilt, is an endangered waterbird found only in the Hawaiian islands. 

Ae'o were once much more common in Hawaii, but loss of wetland habitat and introduction of mammalian predators has reduced their population to less than 1500 birds.

Hawaiian stilts build their nests on the ground near shallow wetlands. Ae'o are known to aggressively defend their nests by dive-bombing and loudly scolding any intruder, including humans, that comes near.

Ae'o are considered to be the kinolau, or physical manifestation, of the Hawaiian god Kū in his fisherman form.

Want to listen or read more about the birds of Hawai'i? Check out our Manu Minute page.

Patrick Hart interests in the ecology and conservation of Hawaiian forests and forest birds stem from years of living in a primitive field camp as a graduate student in the 1990’s at Hakalau Forest National wildlife refuge.
Savannah Harriman-Pote rejoined The Conversation in 2021 after interning for Hawaiʻi Public Radio in the summers of 2018 and 2019. She also produces HPR's podcast Manu Minute in collaboration with The University of Hawaii at Hilo. She was born and raised on the Big Island, and she collects public radio mugs.
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson is the Lab Manager & Research Technician in the Hart Lab/Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab. She researches the ecology, bioacoustics, and conservation of our native Hawaiian forests, birds, and bats.
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