Snapshot: Another pinoy bird

Black naped Oriole

One of several different species of old world orioles in the Philippines, Black-naped Orioles (Oriolus chinensis) is also native in other parts of Southeast Asia and into China and parts of India. I didn’t see it out in the wild when I was in Bohol, so I checked out the ones at the little animal park. They were pretty active in their cage and such a pretty coloration too!

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1984… and 1884

Hawaiian Birds

The Bishop Museum just wrapped up their Wonders of Nature exhibit. As great as it was to see the Museum’s collections from throughout the Pacific, I was there for a very specific reason. It was my first real chance to commiserate with some of the recently extinct wonder-fauna of the Hawaiian Forest…

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Relatives staying for the Holidays

As the holidays fast approach, we must honor those grand traditions of putting up decorations, sending out photos of your “antler and sweater” festooned family, and eating all the delicious holiday meals. Most importantly, we must revel in the sudden uptick of stress induced letters to Dear Abbey about the headache of relatives staying over for the holidays! I kid, of course, but lest you think this is solely a hominid problem, I give you exhibit A…

Cackling Goose


At today’s workday over at Paepae O He’eia, we noticed a lone Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii). We were told that it had been hanging out at the fishpond for a good week and a half already. Cackling geese nest in the far north of the new world and are occasional winter visitors here in Hawai’i. Not sure if the lack of a white collar is diagnostic, but I’m assuming this is subspecies minima. With the mallard in the foreground as scale, we can see that this species is much smaller than the ubiquitous Canadian Goose (Branta canadensis) of the mainland.

With its smaller size, a cackling goose can easily be mistaken for the Nene (Branta sandvicensis). One easy way to tell the relatives apart is by looking at the neck…


… on adult nene, the white patch goes all the way down the neck with a distinctive “furrowing” pattern. (The 3 other nene pictured are subadults).

By the way, Nene ohana, the cackling goose was eating all the food for the ducks and chickens at the fishpond. Hope your pantry is stocked! Don’t say that I didn’t warn you…

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Getting to know your Hawaiian Lobeliads #31: Cyanea asarifolia

cyanea asarifolia

Cyanea asarifolia

  • Hawaiian Name: Haha
  • Conservation Status: Endangered
  • Distribution: Kaua’i (Anahola stream)
  • Date photographed: 8/29/2014
  • Ease of viewing: Cultivated
  • *Identification: Form– Shrub, 0.3-1 m tall Leaves– cordiform, blades 8.5-10.5 cm long, 7-8 cm wide, base cordate. Flower– calyx lobes dentiform, 0.51 mm long; corolla white with purple longitudinal stripes, 20-22 mm long, 3-3.5 mm wide.
  • My notes: There really aren’t enough photos out on the internet of this species which is a shame. This Kaua’i Cyanea is certainly one of the more distinctive looking of the genus. I can’t say I know of any that have heart shaped leaves like this guy. Awesome plant, I felt very privileged to photograph it at the greenhouse.
  • Links: Smithsonian Flora of the Hawaiian Islands, UH Botany, Native Hawaiian Plants- Cyanea
  • Additional Pics:

Cyanea asarifolia leaf

Cyanea asarifolia underside

*From Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai’i

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The myth. The legend. Wailupe


How can I properly frame this? On O’ahu, few places have intrigued me as much as Wailupe. A lot of it has to do with its historical association with the scientific inquiry of Hawaiian biota. Some of it is because of the native assemblage the valley still retains. But I think a lot of it has to do with that same ole recurring theme here at Studia Mirabilium: Sharing the Planet. Here are some awesome native forests in a valley that Hillebrand once roamed. And it’s all right behind urban Honolulu…

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Kuli’ou’ou plants

'Ohi'a flowers

We went on a hike to check out the plant life of Kuli’ou’ou Valley. It was impressive to see the diversity still left in such a commonly hiked area.

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Getting to know your Hawaiian Lobeliads #30: Clermontia lindseyana

C lindseyana form

Clermontia lindseyana

  • Hawaiian Name: ‘Oha wai
  • Conservation Status: Endangered
  • Distribution: East Maui, Hawai’i (Windward Mauna Kea, Ka’u, South Kona)
  • Date photographed: 8/23/2013
  • Ease of viewing: Outplanted
  • *Identification: Form– Terrestrial shrubs or trees 2.5-6 m tall. Leaves– oblanceolate or elliptic; blades 13-24 cm long, 3.8-6.5 cm wide; margins callose-crenulate; petioles 2.5-7 cm long, pubescent. Flower– Perinath green or rarely tinged purplish outside, white or cream internally, 55-65 mm long, 9-18 mm wide, pubescent
  • Phylogenetic comments: Clermontia lindseyana is part of a polytomy of species who’s center of radiation seems to be the Big Island.
  • My notes: Working with Baron at the Hakalau greenhouse to help with this species was a real treat. Hiking out and seeing outplanted individuals growing vigorously was all the more satisfying because of it.
  • Links: Clermontia lindseyana 5year Review (pdf), Smithsonian Flora of the Hawaiian Islands, UH Botany, Native Hawaiian Plants- Clermontia; Givnish TJ, Bean GJ, Ames M, Lyon SP, Sytsma KJ (2013) Phylogeny, Floral Evolution, and Inter-Island Dispersal in Hawaiian Clermontia (Campanulaceae) Based on ISSR Variation and Plastid Spacer Sequences. PLoS ONE 8(5): e62566. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062566;
  • Reference: Pender, Richard “Flora trait evolution and pollination ecology in the Hawaiian lobeliad genus Clermontia (Campanulaceae)” Diss. U. of Hawaii, 2013, print
  • Additional Pics:

C lindseyana flowers

*From Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai’i

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