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Wild animals in Hawaii


Silversword fern Hawaii
Silversword fern Hawaii

Forms of land-animal life native to Hawaii are limited to insects, land snails, one bat species, and several kinds of birds. The most abundant forms are the insects and land snails, which together number more than 5,000 endemic species. The islands’ first animal inhabitants may have been carried by the wind or on floating debris from lands as much as 3,000 km (2,000 mi) away. The endemic species of today all evolved from these early migrants.

Birds resident in Hawaii are both native and introduced. A total of 222 birds are on a national list of endangered species, accounting for more than one-half of the entire list. The honeycreepers are the largest group of native land birds unique to the islands. Native land birds include the elepaio, the amakihi, the liwi, the apapane, the io, or Hawaiian hawk, the alala, or Hawaiian crow, and the nēnē, or goose, which is the state bird. The koloa, or Hawaiian duck, is found mainly on the island of Kauai. Resident and migrant seabirds are common along the coasts and on the small islands northwest of the main group. They include terns, tropic birds, boobies, shearwaters, petrels, and frigate birds.

The most common introduced game birds are the California quail, coturnix, ring-necked pheasant, and green pheasant. Other introduced birds in Hawaii include the peafowl, Chinese thrush, Indian myna, varied tit, red-billed leiothrix, and Japanese white-eye, all from Asia; the house sparrow and skylark, from Europe; the western meadowlark, northern cardinal, mockingbird, and house finch, from North America; and the red-crested, or Brazilian, cardinal, from South America. People have introduced all of Hawaii’s land mammals except a rare native insectivorous bat. The early Polynesians introduced dogs, pigs, and one species of rat. To these, Europeans and Americans added cattle, sheep, goats, cats, two more species of rats, mice, mongooses, mouflon (a kind of wild sheep), axis deer, and other varieties of pigs.

Wild land mammals are mainly domestic stock that has reverted to the wild. These are primarily ungulates (hoofed mammals) such as goats, sheep, pigs, and at one time cattle and horses.

These wild hoofed mammals have caused a great amount of damage to the native vegetation and soil environments of Hawaii. Wild cats are numerous and have had a large impact on native birds. Reptiles and amphibians, all introduced, include frogs, toads, turtles, lizards, geckos, and a blind burrowing snake. More than 650 species of fish are found in Hawaiian waters. The porgy, called mamamu in Hawaiian, and the aholehole are found in brackish waters along the coasts. In deep water are found the marlin, swordfish, albacore, bonito, skipjack (aku), bigeye tuna, wahoo, yellowfin tuna (ahi), snapper (opakapaka), scad (akule), mackerel (opelu), and cavalla (ulua). Dolphins, marine turtles, lobsters, and other forms of marine life are also found in offshore waters. "Hawaii" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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