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Manu Minute: The rare ʻalae ʻula

Gary Kramer
The ʻalae ʻula's red shield protects the bird’s face as it forages through very dense vegetation for grasses, seeds, mollusks, and insects.

The endemic ʻalae ʻula is one of a handful of subspecies of the common gallinule, but there's nothing common about this waterbird.

With fewer than 1,000 individuals remaining, the ʻalae ʻula is one of the rarest birds in Hawaiʻi.

Though once found on nearly all the Hawaiian islands, ʻalae ʻula populations are now restricted to Kauaʻi and Oʻahu, with a handful of sightings on Maui and Hawaiʻi Island.

Destruction of wetlands and predation by cats and dogs are the main culprits of the ʻalae ʻula's decline.

In moʻolelo, the ʻalae ʻula got its distinctive red face marking after a run-in with the demigod Māui. Listen to Patrick Hart share the story in this Manu Minute!

AMTJ_Manu Minute_Alae ula_ Spectrogram Video.mp4

Audio credit:  Tim Burr, Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML234898)  

Patrick Hart is the host of HPR's Manu Minute. He runs the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
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.
Savannah Harriman-Pote is the energy and climate change reporter.
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