National Geographic : 2004 Oct
WHEN TO GO Nene? Yes, Yes: The ideal time to visit Hawai'i Volcanoes is, obviously, when lava is spouting high or snak ing to the sea. But it's tough to plan around Pele's fickle moods. So perhaps go for a glimpse of wildlife: From mid May through August, ARare Bird fledglings of the nene goose, the rare and endangered Hawai'i state bird, are out and about. With only 12 to 15 fledglings annually in the park, the popu lation is just hanging on, and a sighting is a special treat. "If you're lucky enough to see a family group [adults, left], you can tell the youngest birds by their duskier coloring, the incom plete black ring around the neck, and the high, squeaky voice," says park ranger Darcy Hu. Young nene are also less cautious than their elders-but don't take that as an invitation to approach, and feeding the birds is strictly pro hibited. "We have a 60 foot rule of thumb," Hu says. "The best way to watch the nene is from at least that distance with binoculars." For more on the nene and other park wildlife go to nps.gov/havo/ resource/nene.htm. What's Bad for the Goose A rogues' gallery of intro duced species threatens the ground-nesting nene. Rats, mongooses, and feral pigs gobble up eggs and goslings, and feral cats prey on adult birds. Loss of forage and nest ing habitat adds to the burden. Traps and reg istered toxicants help reduce alien predators but are useless against another nene nemesis: the speeding car. TRAVEL TIPS Get the goods on the park the who, what, when, and how of traveling there-at nationalgeographic.com/ magazine/0410. TRY IT AT HOME Virtual Volcano: Track Eruptions via the Web Tolearn more about a subject covered in this issue, try these National Geographic Society products and services. Call1-888 -225-5647 or log on to nationalgeographic.com for more information. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Can't make the trip to Hawai'i? Visited during a lull in volcanic activ ity? You can still keep up with the action (or inaction) on the website of the Hawaiian Volca noes Observatory, part of the U.S. Geological Survey: hvo.wr.usgs.gov. Scientists there moni tor every twitch and burp of erupting Kilau ea (left) and massive FRANSLANTING Mauna Loa (above, with dormant Mauna Kea in the foreground.) Only because they were able to accompany working geologists could the article's author and photographer get as close as they did. If you're looking to spend time in the field, the website explains the observatory's rigorous volunteer program. FROM THE SOCIETY * Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Trails Illustrated Map. Atear-resistant, water proof topographic map to help navigate through the park. Highlights hiking trails, backcountry wilderness regulations, and safety and survival tips ($9.95). * National Geographic Traveler Hawaii. This guidebook includes information on the park's visitor center-and its only hotel ($22.95). * TOPO! Hawaii CD-ROM set. Aseamless view of the islands allows you to zoom in on the park to create and print your own USGS topographic map with 3-D relief shad ing. Customize it with elevation profiling, routes, Web links, and photos ($99.95).