Hawai‘i Marks August 8th with Inaugural Honeycreepers Celebration Day
The Hawai‘i State Legislature issued an official resolution recognizing August 8, 2023 as the inaugural Honeycreepers Celebration Day. Inspired by American Bird Conservancy (ABC) together with local artists and conservationists, with a date chosen to channel Hawai‘i's telephone area code 808, the new festivity aims to foster statewide awareness and support for ongoing Hawaiian honeycreeper conservation efforts.
“Honeycreepers Celebration Day is the culmination of the efforts of over 2,000 haumāna (students) and their kumu (teachers) who championed passing this resolution in the past legislative session,” said Luka Zavas, Outreach Manager for ABC's Hawai‘i program. “We are so proud of them and welcome everyone to join us in celebrating this achievement and the efforts that help prevent Hawaiian honeycreepers from going extinct.”
Starting in October 2022, ABC, Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project, Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project, and Kamehameha Schools Kaiāulu introduced a curriculum to inspire the next generation to protect its unique, native birds through civic engagement. This new honeycreeper curriculum took students on an avian journey through the geological, evolutionary, and ecological history of Hawai‘i. The curriculum presented cultural significance and a strong conservation message, explaining the importance and challenges of saving the remaining honeycreeper species. This inspired the children of Hawai‘i, from kindergarten to high school, to use their voices to advocate for a day to shine a light upon the relationships they have with the surviving native honeycreepers.
Across four separate hearings, students passionately spoke of the urgency in protecting the remaining honeycreeper species and sharing the names of the birds, both those still with us and those that have gone extinct. In extensive written testimony spanning hundreds of pages, students expressed their support through traditional writing, as well as creative mediums like comic strips, poems, and artwork. Additionally, some students delivered their testimonies in both English and Hawaiian, highlighting their deep connection to the birds.
“Honeycreepers are an integral part of the Hawaiian ecosystems and culture, and this celebration is a way of honoring and sharing that,” stated Chris Farmer, ABC's Hawai‘i Program Director. “Mahalo to the students and teachers for championing this celebration to bring awareness of these beautiful birds, the people who help them, and conservation solutions to ensure they survive for these students' children to experience.”
Once a bird paradise, Hawai‘i is now the bird extinction capital of the world with many species on the brink and more at risk of disappearing in our lifetime. Since human settlement of the islands, 95 of 142 bird species found nowhere else have become extinct in Hawai‘i. Most of the remaining bird populations have been substantially reduced by invasive species and habitat loss, and the honeycreepers, including Kiwikiu and ‘I‘iwi, have been hit particularly hard by nonnative diseases transmitted by invasive mosquitoes.
Of the over 50 species of honeycreepers endemic to Hawai‘i, only 17 remain, with 12 of those at risk of imminent extinction. Most birds that people encounter in Hawai‘i today are nonnative species such as House Finches and Northern Cardinals, leaving native birds out of sight and out of mind. Found in higher elevation forests, many of the at-risk endemic species are far away from urban lowlands and beaches where residents and visitors tend to congregate, and many people never get to experience the birds. Through the recognition of Honeycreepers Celebration Day, ABC and its partners hope to reignite local relationships with native bird species for many generations to come.
Honeycreepers Celebration Day will be celebrated on August 8 across Hawai‘i's islands with special family-friendly events happening throughout the month. For more information, visit birdsnotmosquitoes.org/celebrate808.
American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).
Director of Communications