Register for Fresno Audubon General Meeting July 12th, 7:00pm
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The Hawaiian Archipelago is the most isolated chain of islands in the world, over twenty-five hundred miles from the nearest continent. Very few plants and animals have ever reached these remote islands on their own, but those that did, evolved over time and became unique to the Islands. About five and a half million years ago, a small flock of finch like birds from Asia, likely blown off course, arrived in the Hawaiian islands. Unrestricted food supplies and adaptations through competition for these food resources created evolutionary opportunities for speciation through specialization of bill forms and body size. From this one colonization the Hawaiian Honeycreepers evolved into over fifty different bird species found nowhere else on earth. Some Honeycreepers, like the scarlet I’iwi, evolved long curved bills to feed on nectar in the curved flowers of native plants, like those of the Bell flower family or Lobelias and provide for their pollination. Other bird species adapted to feed on insects in different ways. For example, the tiny Hawaii Akepa, with its short straight bill, crossed at the tip, gleans micro insects from leaf buds. The Akialoa’s long thin bill, almost as long as its body, was used to poke deep into tree crevices to find insects that no other bird could reach. The Akiapola’au has one of the most unusual bills in the bird world. Its upper bill is long, thin and down curved, and lower bill short straight and stout feeds like a woodpecker, but with its mouth open. It pecks into the tree wood with its lower short-stout bill, then uses the upper long curved bill to reach into the hole to wrench out wood-boring beetle larvae. Today, only 17 Hawaiian Honeycreepers species remain in the Islands, but with continued habitat protection and restoration as is happening at Hakalau Forest NWR on Hawaii Island and other areas in the State, as well as captive breeding and release, and active research on control of mosquitoes and avian diseases, the remaining Hawaiian Honeycreepers will hopefully survive far into the future.
Jack Jeffrey, a longtime resident of Hawaii Island, is a professional wildlife and nature photographer, birding guide, and wildlife biologist. He is intimately familiar with Hawaii’s remote rainforests, hidden valleys, and rare endemic birds. He brings to his images the knowledge from over 50 years of observation and study of Hawaii’s native forest birds, as well as those in other places from his travels around the world. He combines a naturalist’s curiosity with a photographer’s patience and technical skill to produce beautiful images.
Jack is recipient of the prestigious “Ansel Adams Award for Nature Photography”, and is a USFWS “Endangered Species Recovery Champion”. He has also received the coveted Nature Conservancy of Hawaii Kako’o Aina Award, Hawaii Sierra Club Conservationist of the Year Award, and the Hawaii Audubon Society Conservationist of the Year Award. Now retired from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, he is enjoying more time traveling with his wife Gretchen, leading tours and photographing wildlife and nature around the world.