Saving ‘Alae ‘Ula, Hawai’i’s Endangered Swamp Chicken

presented by Dr. Charles van Rees

Dr. Charles van Rees, a naturalist and conservation biologist at the Flathead Lake Biological Station will be the guest speaker at the Flathead Audubon meeting  Monday, November 11 from 7-9 PM in the Gateway West Community Meeting Room in Kalispell.

‘Alae ‘Ula, or the Hawaiian Gallinule, is an endangered subspecies of water bird endemic to the Hawaiian archipelago. According to Native Hawaiian legend, ‘Alae ‘Ula were sacred birds whose night-time calls were omens of death, and who provoked the wrath of the volcano goddess Pēlē when they revealed the secret of fire to humankind. These strange, pugnacious little birds were nearly driven to extinction in the 1960’s due to reclamation of their wetland habitats and the introduction of invasive predators. They disappeared from all of the archipelago except for the islands of Kaua‘i and O‘ahu, the home of Waikiki beach, where they have made a slow and tenuous, partial recovery.

Dr. Charles van Rees shares the conservation story of ‘Alae ‘Ula and his findings from over five years as a PhD candidate conducting field research on O‘ahu. Charles is recently arrived in the Flathead Valley to work as a postdoctoral research scientist studying aquatic invasive species at the Flathead Lake Biological Station.

The program is free and open to the public.