Do you ever feel awed by the richness and diversity of Hawaii rainforests? You can thank the ‘Alala crow and ‘Oma’o Hawaiian thrush, two of the greatest forest builders. Both birds are endemic to Hawaii. These birds forage on fruit and berries and spread their seeds throughout the forest as they go about their busy routines.
‘Alala thrive on fleshy seeds and fruit. This guy is eagerly reaching for a clump of olapa berries. His next move might be to hop down the branch and sample the hoawa seeds in their bright orange pods. The ‘Oma’o is prepared to feast on ‘akala, the Hawaiian raspberry. Two other favorites are the bright orange pilo fruit and the ohelo with its delicious berries that are also a favorite of the nene goose. In the upper canopy notice the ‘Ohi’a seeds, so light that they travel on the wind and in the feathers of birds. The koa in center and sandalwood at far right drop their seeds to the ground for germination.
Sadly, the ‘Alala became extinct in the wild and has recently been re-introduced to the forest through a breeding program at the Keauhou Conservation Center in Volcano. The ‘Oma’o is one of two endemic thrushes remaining of what was once a common species throughout Hawaii. As wild and abundant as the forest may seem, the decline of these important birds means that many plants can only reproduce through the seeds that land on the earth and sprout. “Seeding the Rainforest” is a celebration of two special birds who have created the forests of Hawaii.
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