Hawai'i State News

Mayor Roth proclaims 2024 ‘The Year of the Forest Bird’ in Hawai‘i County

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Mayor Mitch Roth has signed a proclamation recognizing 2024 as The Year of The Forest Birds in Hawaiʻi County. Photo Courtesy: County of Hawai‘i

Mayor Mitch Roth has signed a proclamation recognizing 2024 as Ka Makahiki o Nā Manu Mahele, The Year of The Forest Birds in Hawaiʻi County.

For millions of years prior to human contact, Hawaiian forests were the dominion of native
nā manu nahele (forest birds), comprising at least 84 species including honeycreepers, honeyeaters, flycatchers, thrushes, warblers, hawks, owls and crows. Nā manu nahele have critical ecological roles in Hawaiʻi as pollinators, seed dispersers and insect managers in
Hawaiian forests, sometimes so closely co-evolved with plant species that native plants cannot
reproduce without them.

The threats to the remaining manu species, particularly honeycreepers, include habitat loss;
habitat degradation by invasive plants, insects, and diseases; predation by invasive rats, cats
and mongoose; and deadly diseases spread by mosquitoes, particularly avian malaria.


Nā manu nahele are an inextricable part of Native Hawaiian culture in their roles as ʻaumakua (family deities) and messengers between akua (gods) and kānaka (people). Nā manu nahele are celebrated in mele (songs), moʻolelo (stories), ʻōlelo noʻeau (proverbs), kaʻao (legends) and
in the creation of feather adornments.

Hawai‘i is experiencing a bird extinction crisis, with roughly two-thirds of its known native manu
nahele species having become extinct. Nearly all of the remaining 26 species are facing critical

“Protecting our natural and cultural resources is at the core of our vision for a sustainable
Hawaiʻi Island where our keiki can raise their keiki for generations to come,” said Mayor Mitch


“We are proud to declare this year the year of the forest birds, honoring all those who
dedicate their careers to the restoration and conservation of our native forests so that the many creatures, including our endemic birds, can thrive and continue calling Hawaiʻi Island home,” the mayor continued.

On Hawai‘i Island, the first statewide Hawai‘i forest bird surveys – which started in 1976 – confirmed what pre-contact Native Hawaiians already knew when they named an area on the slopes of Mauna Kea “Hakalau” (“many perches”); there is a high density of forest birds within and around this area.

In 1985, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, with the active involvement and support of The
Nature Conservancy, purchased these lands and established the Hakalau Forest National
Wildlife Refuge to protect and manage endangered Hawaiian forest birds and their habitat.


Located on high on the windward slopes of Mauna Kea, the Hakalau Forest unit consists of
32,830 acres of some of the finest remaining stands of native montane rain forest in Hawai‘i and habitat for 29 critically endangered species including seven birds, one insect, one mammal and 20 plants found nowhere else in the world.

Success within the Hakalau Forest has demonstrated the effectiveness of the resource restoration and protection philosophy “management matters” (doing something is better than doing nothing), as it is a protected forest area on the Big Island where native forest birds have populations that are either stable or increasing, all due to the restoration and reforestation efforts of many partners, including thousands of volunteers over the past nearly 40 years.

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments