I was lucky to see the ’alae ’ula ,”burnt forehead” bird, while visiting the Waimea Valley on the island of O’ahu several years ago. This subspecies of mudhen is the Hawaiian moorhen or Hawaiian gallinule.
Population estimates range from 300-500. Due to their secretive nature, it’s difficult to know their exact numbers. Hawaiian moorhens live mainly on the islands of O’ahu and Kaua’i, with a few reports of sightings on the islands of Maui and Hawai’i. The 15 birds living at the Waimea Valley site are considered a treasured natural resource.
So where does this moorhen get the “burnt forehead” nickname? Here’s an explanation from the Waimea Valley website:
This Colocasia Esculenta mural, created by Danny Fry in 2020, shows colorful elephant ear plants. This plant, referred to as taro or kalo, is common in Hawaii, where Danny grew up.
The colorful leaves of this mural represent the mix of people here in Bend, Oregon. Many people move here from other locations, and this mural reflects that growth in a positive light. For example, Bend hosts several thriving restaurants and businesses run by Hawaiians.
Hanauma Bay, Hawaii
Hawaiians in Oregon: A brief history
What does the Owhyee River in southeastern Oregon and Kanaka Flat near Jacksonville, Oregon have in common? Both place names refer to the Hawaiians that lived in Oregon in the 1800’s.
In 1811, Jacob Astor hired the first Owyhees, an older spelling of Hawaii, to work in the fur trade. A post was established in Astoria, Oregon and was later turned over to the Montreal-based North West Company. The fort was eventually renamed Fort George and it was moved to another location.
How did Hawaiians get to the mainland? Captain James Cook discovered the Hawaiian islands in 1778 and named them the Sandwich Islands after the Earl of Sandwich. Ships stopped in Hawaii for provisions and since the native people were well known for their maritime expertise, they were hired as replacement workers. They were also known to excel in swimming, fishing, hunting, and in the construction of posts and forts.
Waimea Falls, Hawaii