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This would have marked the first time in the 1,500-year human habitation of the islands that the word calala fell upon the ears of westerners. So began the bird's remarkable journey from a shining spiritual presence within an isolated Pacific culture to a sharply demarcated object within Western intellect and scientific thought. Only days after first hearing its name, westerners saw the raven for the first time when James King, an officer on the Resolution, came upon two 'alala kept as pets in...

Psv

Jl JLugust 3, 2000, seven in the morning. I am eating breakfast with Keith Unger and Cynthia Salley at McCandless Ranch. The 'alalaa have not been seen for five weeks, Salley says. The manager of Kealia Ranch recently heard at least two of them, Unger adds. Soon we are joined by Glenn Klingler, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, and refuge manager Dave Ledig. Klingler, with a week-old beard covering his slender face, thinning light brown hair combed back, and a small silver earring...

Acknowledgments

Way that I, the scientist, might never have to see them, in my writing and my dreams, such that they may come and tell us about themselves. My appreciation to the Nathan Cummings Foundation's board of trustees, especially Adam Cummings, for the time during which the foundation worked valiantly to preserve the culture and vanishing natural landscapes of Hawai'i. The foundation's former executive director, Charles Halpern, and my colleague there, Henry Ng, encouraged my writing of this book...

Captain Cook

In July 1776, two ships departed from England, bound for the Cape of Good Hope and on into the Pacific, where they would seek a shorter route between Asia and England by way of the legendary Northwest Passage. As charged by the Admiralty, upon each landfall the explorers were to observe the nature of the soil, and the products thereof the beasts and fowls that inhabit or frequent it. . . you are to bring home specimens of each . . . that we may cause proper examination and experiments to be...

Scientists to the Rescue

URaRE, glamorous, and still mysterious, with little having been published on its biology or behavior, by the late 1970s the 'alala had become a golden topic for academic research. The bird's continuing descent toward extinction only increased its allure. In the spring of 1978, Stanley A. Temple, an assistant professor in the Department of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, joined C. John Ralph, a research ecologist at the Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment...

Heart of

In 2000, I joined Cynthia Salley at McCandless Ranch. She had just returned from an 'Alala Partnership meeting, held in her adjacent office building. Exasperation still showed on her face. We strolled onto the lanai, bordered by red geraniums, and Salley lowered her tired body into a koa wood chair. Salley's silver Mercedes, a fixture at the ranch, was parked in the carport. The ranch house is of gray stained wood with a corrugated metal roof that must sound magical under rain. The gentility of...

Mountain of Sorrow

O. e of the loveliest and largest ahupua'a, or ancient land divisions, on all of Hawai'i Island was a place called Pu'uwa'awa'a, Hawaiian for Furrowed Hill, located on the northern slope of the ancient volcano Hualaa-lai. Stretching from shore to mountain, as these ahupua'a usually did, the uplands of Pu'uwa'awa'a included expanses of open fields interspersed with islands of trees and bordered by rich native forests. If the scattered historical reports are any indication, the forests of...

The Alala from Hell

Many deaths within so short a time had rendered the all-or-nothing approach obsolete. John Marzluff and his backers on the 'Alala Recovery Team had apparently been vindicated. But now several team members, including Marzluff, demanded to know exactly why so many of the released 'alalaa had died. It's painfully obvious, Alan Lieberman reiterated. There's no safe habitat Lieberman was also quick to point out that during the ART's six years in existence it had done little. It had not come up with...

Epilogue

On june 14, 2002, federal wildlife biologist Jeff Burgett drove up to Kealia Ranch as usual. It was one of those warm Mauna Loa mornings when the forests release their ferny perfume and 'apapane and 'i'iwi sing between sunlight and shadow. The Kealia pair were right in the same place they always hung out, Burgett reported afterward of the only remaining wild 'alala. They had finished their breeding attempt for the year, which hadn't been successful in a long time and still wasn't. They were...

A

JL JLS THE 'ALALA'S PRESENCE in Western scientific literature grew, its spiritual essence among Hawaiians, in life and in memory, ebbed or so it seemed to me. For all that my library visit had revealed about the raven as known by Western science, discovering the lost 'alala of the Hawaiians would be far more difficult. Such were the faint traces of the 'alala left by the oral culture among which the species lived knowledge tenuously impermanent to begin with, and upon which numerous layers of...

Guardian Spirits

Then I ASkED Hawaiian elder Aunty Pele Hanoa, who lives in a coconut grove at the edge of a beach in the district of Ka'u, why it would matter if the 'alala, but one guardian spirit in a land of many guardian sprits, were lost, she could not initially find the words to answer. After a few moments, with her usually bright and cheery face seeming to turn momentarily despondent, she said, You have many relatives, no So if one of your aunts or uncles dies, it really doesn't matter because you have...

Barbara Churchill lee

When 'Umi, Hina, and Kekau, the three fledglings captured by Paul Banko, were ensconced at their new home in the shadow of a bombing range, fate showed up at their door. Or that is how Barbara Churchill described her arrival at Pohakuloa. In her thirties, with long chestnut hair and dark, intelligent eyes, Barbara came to the front entrance of the facility unannounced. She must have been a welcome sight to Ah Fat Lee, the short, handsome man who stepped out of the main building to greet her....

Abundance and loss

HN THE 'OHl'A FORESTS, a few miles above Ka'awaloa (celebrated as being the spot where Captain Cook fell), I found this bird numerous in the month of June, by which time the brood had already left the nest, wrote Scott Barchard Wilson, an ornithologist who spent several months collecting and studying Hawaiian birds for his 1887 work Aves Hawaiienses. His was the first notable ornithology to come out of the islands since the U.S. Exploring Expedition, more than three decades earlier and, in...

Broken Home

JLor years, Cynthia Salley, her sister, Elizabeth Tita Stack, and her brother, Les Marks, owned in common the almost mythic sixty-thousand-acre Mc-Candless Ranch half outright, half leased from the Bishop Estate. It was a mostly magnificent tract of forest and pasture reaching from South Kona to Ka'u, from ocean shore to the alpine zones of leeward Mauna Loa and, for the family, a place of mostly pleasant memories going back just about as far as anyone could remember. But common were the scars...

The Bird Catcher

In captivity after the calamitous five-year history at Pohakuloa, the state desperately needed more birds if the propagation program was to succeed. Adult 'alala in the wild had become exceedingly rare. Fledglings suitable for the breeding program were rarer still. What's more, federal law prohibited the unauthorized capture of any protected species even by state biologists without a special permit. Violation of these laws could result in large fines and even prison time. The Hawai'i Division...

Yahoo

H N THE WAKE OF BARBARA LEE'S and Fay Steele's stormy departures from Pohakuloa in 1979, the program remained leaderless for four years, surviving on a shoestring budget. During this time the birds, held captive without apparent purpose, occasionally laid eggs but never reared young, and endured days extinguished by boredom, with some maladjusted individuals whirling in circles and attacking their own feet. Such was the state's reply to the plight of the suffering 'alal . Despite the...