30 in 30: Hawaiian Moorhen

Hawaiian Moorhen
Acrylic on Gessobord Panel
5″ X 7″

Today’s bird is a lovely little endemic Hawaiian Moorhen.  I love the long brightly colored legs, extra long fancy toes, and rubbery red beak of this wading bird.  They are a common sight at Hamakua Marsh next to Kailua town, but it is sadly endangered.  It’s always strange to see this rare little chicken-sized bird running around so close to stores and boutiques considering its conservation status.  One of its main Oahu wetlands is really close to the town center of Kailua.  This bird has a lot of aliases: Hawaiian common gallinule, Hawaiian common moorhen, mudhen, and in Hawaiian it is `alae `ula (“burnt forehead” – for its prominent red frontal shield). They can be surprisingly friendly, but shouldn’t be fed by hand since many human foods (bread!) aren’t nutritious in the correct ways for birds.