On the second Saturday of every month, a small group of hikers is led into the Waikamoi Preserve, Hawaii’s largest private nature preserve at 8,951 acres on the windward slope of Haleakala, Maui’s dormant volcanic giant.
Bryan Berkowitz, a docent with The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, previewed some of the rare birds hikers were hoping to see during their July 9 visit. First they had to scrub their shoes with bleach to prevent the spread of a tree-attacking disease known as rapid ohia death.
Even at Waikamoi Preserve, hikers first walked among non-native evergreens that choke the floor of the watershed. The struggle is constant to protect native species by managing invasive plants and animals that threaten their survival.
Following a wooden elevated walkway within a native forest, hikers wandered beneath an open canopy of ohia lehua trees.
The preserve is a sanctuary for hundreds of native Hawaiian plants and animals. High-elevation rain forests and alpine shrublands are home to 12 native bird species, seven of them endangered.
A Maui Alauahio, or Maui Creeper, darted around an ohia lehua tree. The bird is now found only on east Maui, and its existence depends on conservation and restoration of malaria-free forest habitat.
Mist that blew across the slopes of Haleakala formed globules of water collected by the tiny leaves of an ohia lehua tree.
Hikers stopped to listen to birds singing and rustling in a canopy of ohia lehua trees.
A leaf on a cyanea horrida, a palm-like tree found only in east Maui and considered “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Water on the tips of ohia lehua leaves. Waikamoi Preserve is managed in partnership with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. For more information or to sign up for a hike, call (808) 572-7849.
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