In the 1970s, a group of students doing research in an unexplored rain forest on a steep mountain on Maui discovered a delightful small bird with a black mask. At first, few believed it could possibly be an unidentified species. It seemed so unlikely that it had never before encountered humans. As it turned out, there was no known record of this tiny bird from the finch family. It was named the Po'ouli.
Just three decades after being discovered, they are all gone. The last known Po'ouli died in captivity just a few short years ago in the midst of a heroic, heart breaking attempt to save the species from extinction.
A newly released book, The Race to Save the World's Rarest Bird: The Discovery and Death of the Po'ouli, tells the dramatic story of this bird's life, how it came to Hawaii, why it was in endangered and why rescue attempts ultimately failed. It is also a window into the challenges of the Endangered Species Act and the future of other endangered species.
Dh wrote the book and I couldn't be more excited. He found out about the bird when there will just three left. At the time, he had returned to graduate school to study biology after years as a political and business reporter. The bird was gone by the time he first proposed writing a book about it. This is a lifelong dream for him and I couldn't be more proud. It's been a long road for him as he has spent hours gathering tons of information and finding just the right words to make the story come alive. For me, it's been a lot of late nights and weekends holding down the fort and dealing on my own with our 5c. I'll admit that I'm biased, but still I think the book is great. There are descriptions of the rain forest that make you feel as if you are walking through it. Even the geography lesson on how Hawaii came to be is interesting.
If you know anyone interested in birds, Hawaii or endangered species policy, please spread the word.