Hawaiian Nene

A nene stands for a headshot in front of some bushes
A nene stands for a headshot in front of some bushes

If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you’ve probably seen the Hawaiian Goose, or Nene. A decedent from the Canada Goose, this bird is the official state bird of Hawaii, and is found wild exclusively on the islands of Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii. One of its main distinctions is the ruffled feather patterns down its neck. The Nene derives its name from the soft call it makes, sounding like “nay, nay.”

A nene poses for a head portrait, Kauai, Hawaii
A nene poses for a head portrait, Kauai, Hawaii

Like many once populous species, the Nene has had a difficult recent history. In the early 20th century, due to hunting and introduced predators, the entire world population was reduced to 30 birds by 1952. It was successfully bred in captivity and reintroduced into the wild, and today it is estimated that 800 Nene live in the wild. Even after these re-population efforts, it is the rarest goose in the world.

A nene stands for a headshot in front of green grass
A nene stands for a headshot in front of green grass

On a recent trip to Kauai, I had many great opportunities to photograph Nene. Unfortunately, many had become used to tourist’s food, and were quite fearless in their approach. I found if you sit still long enough, some would practically come sit in your lap!

A nene poses for a head portrait, Kauai, Hawaii
A nene poses for a head portrait, Kauai, Hawaii

This is a beautiful bird to watch, and their soft cooing is endearing.