Posts tagged “vacation

Wild Turkeys in Hawaii

Wild urkey on the Big Island of Hawaii

There are tons of wild turkeys on the Big Island of Hawaii!  They roam the golf courses and lava rock fields searching for insects, lizards, seeds, berries and anything else that’s edible and relatively small.   It’s a lovely thing to see.

The Wild Turkey evolved in America and was domesticated by Native Americans.  In the early 1500s turkeys domesticated by the Aztecs were taken to Europe and interestingly enough, their descendants were brought back to America by the pilgrims who soon found out their indigenous neighbors were raising them too.

They soon spread to China and in 1788 they were introduced from there to the Hawaiian islands. Over the years, more have been released, whether purposely or not, by ranches and farms and perhaps by people who wanted to hunt them.  Currently you can hunt them on the island along with pheasant, doves, francolin, quail, as well as introduced mammals such as goats, sheep and boar.

Turkeys especially prosper on the Big Island because of it’s dry grassy sloping landscapes, and as you can see, they seem right at home.

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“Planned Pigeonhood” in Waikiki

Pigeons in WaikikiIf you’ve been fortunate enough to visit the beautiful island of Hawaii you’ve probably visited Honolulu.  And if you’ve visited Honolulu that means you’ve probably been to Waikiki.  And if you’ve been to Waikiki that means you’ve seen the pigeons (a.k.a. rock doves).

Lovely birds, as special as any living creature, but not very popular with the tourists.

Hawaii is a common destination for Alaskans in the winter.  With an almost total lack of sunshine from November to February we pledge to ourselves that this winter we are getting out!  Hopefully it happens.  And there is nary a more direct route to full-on sunshine then the quick five or so hours from Anchorage to Honolulu.

Pigeon missing footThe pigeon on the very left is looking pretty mangy (click on the photo to see it larger).  There are so many pigeons in Waikiki, with no natural predators anywhere in sight, that they over breed and become a danger to themselves and people.  The photo on the right shows another pigeon from Waikiki, this one missing a foot and walking around a restaurant hunting for food scraps and somehow managing to avoid being clobbered.

So when I saw this posting by the Human Society about OvoControl, a contraceptive-laced food that property owners can feed pigeons, I was thrilled.  It describes how the manager of The International Marketplace, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Waikiki, chose to take a chance on the product and saw a 60% reduction in pigeons after 12 months. (It costs $9 a day to treat feed/treat 100 pigeons.)

Talk about an ideal non-violent and humane solution!  Maybe this will catch on in communities that are fed up with the overpopulation of this city-loving bird.


Chipmunks at Athabasca Falls (not a bird to be seen)

My husband and I are presently traveling from the north of the United States – Alaska – to the south of it – North Carolina.  I have gotten some unbelievable photographs of wildlife, including a close encounter with a grizzly bear that was digging up roots alongside the Alaska Highway (you can see them here).

Jasper and Banff National Parks in Alberta, Canada were spectacular.  Surrounded by sunlit mountains, we drove through the parks with our mouths agape, peaks above us and streams meandering through valleys below us.  And though we saw barely a creature but tourist’s dogs in the parks, I did catch a few up close photos of scurrying chipmunks at Athabasca Falls in Jasper.

Canadians definitely have their national parks figured out, if these two are representations of them as a whole.  Athabasca Falls had wooden stairways interspersed between towering rocks – sometimes you have to duck to or go single-file to get through.  Lots of concrete walkways in different viewpoints of the falls, accessed by sun dappled paths with views of game trails through the moss.  A peaceful and necessary stop, and in our case at least, not too crowded.

The only large wild mammal we saw in the parks was Bighorn Sheep.  A group of 6 or 7 were nibbling something on the rocks (my husband says they were ingesting minerals from the rocks).  The chipmunks were also nibbling, moving with rocket speed over the concrete and moss, not too scared of us big hulking humans except perhaps to be caught underfoot.

So, no birds this time.  The only ones I’ve managed to capture with my camera are swans and ravens, back up in the Yukon Territory.  But that’s a post for another day.   Until then, best wishes to you all…

Don’t forget to click for larger images! 


A Bridge to the Birds of Paradise

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve was the single most heavenly tropical place I’ve ever been.  Even without the amazing birding experience, I would go back in a second.

Sian Ka’an is close to Tulum, Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula – a dazzling coastal ecosystem.  My husband and I rambled along in our rented Jeep with no A/C on a long white gravel road that winds along the coast of the Caribbean Sea.  It was a drop dead gorgeous sunny hot day.  The shining white beaches were radiant even with the washed-up garbage strewn about.  I hopped over photo op after photo op, looking for pieces of beach glass (something I could do for days, weeks, months!).

If it had been our choice, my husband and I would have driven that road till the end. But as we all know, daylight is limited and vacation time goes especially fast.

Possibly the best part of Sian Ka’an was the old weathered bridge that stood alongside the newer bridge that we traveled on.  They cross a beautiful blue-green river that flows into the ocean.  You can see a video of them here.

Locals fished off the bridges, breezes relieved the heat, and I found bird after bird to photograph.   To the left are female and male Great-Tailed Grackles.  The gull, tern, and turnstone were firsts for me (below).

I’ll fondly remember this old weathered bridge for all my days, along with the fine feathered friends I met that day.


I Love Chickens

In February 2011 my husband and I were able to make a 5 day visit to the Hawaiian island of Kauai and one thing that amazed us was the existence of chickens all over the place.  They seemed to have an uncanny ability to avoid getting hit by vehicles!  I’m sure it happens but we saw no evidence of chicken roadkill, even while they are constantly seen pecking and preening alongside nearly every single roadway.  Survival of the smartest, I guess.

Turns out they are called Red Junglefowl.  The Hawaiian name is Moa and according to the Hawaii Audubon Society wild populations exist only on Kauai.  It’s hard to know where the actual Junglefowl begins and the domestic chicken ends though, since they have interbred to the point of total confusion.

My guess, after a small amount of research, is that the dark brown chicken on the left is closer to true Junglefowl, and the one on the right is more of a domesticated chicken.  Both of these photos were taken at Brennecke’s Beach in Poipu, where they intermingled with the tourists.  (If you click on the photos you will get a lot more detail.)

Moa were brought to the Hawaiian islands by Polynesian colonists.  The birds pictured here would not be considered the truly wild Junglefowl that were once widespread on the islands.  In 1883 the mongoose was foolishly introduced to several Hawaiian islands, and although one dead mongoose was found alongside a road in Kauai in 1976, and other sightings have been reported, it seems not to have affected the Kauai population of Junglefowl.  Let’s hope that continues.

Lucky these chickens that live free lives.  They could have just as likely been born into a factory and lived out their lives in 8×10 cages with their beaks cut off.  Sorry to be gruesome but this is what our industrial food system has brought to our planet.  (Please consider not eating factory chicken!)

After all, the chicken is the nearest living relative to the Tyrannosaurus Rex!  Give them a little respect!