One of the biggest and most surprising disappointments that people coming to Hawai'i experience is the fact that there is not much happening in the way of colorful birds. Sure, we have the "non-native" cardinal, finch, java sparrow or the occasional "third-generation escapee" wild lovebird, parrot or parakeet, but the "pickins" are slim for what most outsiders expect to see bird-wise here in our tropical paradise.
We all know what happened when some mental midgets decided to bring the mongoose in to take care of what they saw as an island rat problem: The mongoose lives in burrows and is a nondiscriminatory predator, feeding on small animals, reptiles, frogs, insects, and worms--but birds' eggs are its culinary preference. Creative hunters, mongooses are known to break open bird eggs by throwing them with their forepaws onto a solid object.
Meanwhile, unlike the mongoose, the dreaded rats "turned out to" be nocturnal. Thus the rats and mongooses seldom did meet--but the exotic birds that were already being driven out by development on the island were quickly finished off by those predatory, cobra-killing, bird-egg-eating mammals.
and Another Thing…
That being said, here's my letter to Santa this year:
"Dear Santa Claus,
I'm well aware that introducing a new species to our beautiful island is strictly taboo, and against all conservation rules and regulations, but there has to be a legal and environmentally acceptable way to bring bluebirds to Maui. I'm not talking about blue jays--those big, ugly, blue and white crow family step-cousins that squawk loudly and eat other birds' eggs. I'm talking about those beautiful little blue birds that many people have never seen, but hear about in songs and poems and see in Disney movies. You can find them in fields and meadows in the summertime in many American suburbs and rural areas. They eat worms, slugs, berries, fruits and insects, and I promise these little creatures of God won't do anything bad. They won't destroy the Hawaiian forests and the native flowers, and they won't kill other creatures. If they survive, they will complement this beautiful island in a most incredibly wonderful way.
I promise I have been a really good boy, so please, Santa, help us find a way.
This opinion column is written by Charles Laquidara, who has lived on Maui for over 11 years. He worked at WBCN radio in Boston for 30 years as the morning-drive host of a show called "The Big Mattress" and is occasionally heard on Mana'o Radio here on-island. Email firstname.lastname@example.org