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Picture of the Day

June 9, 2012

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I sent an actual picture postcard of this image to my friend
Ratwing Hamwitt: If you think this bird is cute, you're right.
The sound it makes is also its name: Nene (nay-nay). It's
an endangered goose endemic to Hawai'i, descended from
Canadian honkers 500,000 years ago. We hung out with a
tagged pair at bottom of Haleakala crater. People must feed
'em because they had no fear; one pecked at my camera
lens hoping it was a treat. They're good company and make
soft reedy woodwind sounds like someone puffing gently
into tenor sax. Their webbed feet are specially adapted
to walking on lava rock and cinders.
Haleakala crater is vast, surreal,
and beautiful--a US southwest
landscape plopped atop vol-
cano in middle of ocean.