The Rare & The Mundane

By Linda Nagata

Right beside Maui’s international airport, just on the border of our small town of Kahului, is a wetland area known as Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary. Thousands of people drive past it every day, most with hardly more than a glance across the water.

Kanaha Pond, alongside Kahului Town

A Hawaiian Coot crosses the walking path at Kanaha Pond

Strangely enough, the water birds that inhabit the pond don’t seem to mind the traffic. Neither do they appear bothered by the coming and going of jets at the nearby runway.

This is even more impressive when you realize that two of the pond’s birds are endangered species. The Hawaiian coot, or `alae ke`oke`o, is a charming water bird first listed as endangered in 1967. The coot tends to stick close to the water.

A Hawaiian Stilt at Kanaha Pond

The second endangered species is the ae`o, or black-necked stilt. As their name implies, stilts are long-legged wading birds, but they’re also excellent fliers. It’s a common sight to see a small flock of two or three stilts flying over the parking lot at our local Costco, which is situated quite close to Kanaha Pond. For me, there’s something very charming about this combination of the rare and the mundane—an endangered species happily coexisting in the neighborhood of a big box store.

Hawaii has many endangered species, and many more species that have already been lost to extinction. There are diverse reasons for this, with habitat loss high on the list, especially for the water birds. Kanaha Pond though, belongs to the birds and happily, they seem to thrive there.


Linda Nagata is the Locus and Nebula award winning author of The Bohr Maker, Vast, and Memory, all available at Book View Cafe. Her latest book The Dread Hammer, is a fast-paced mythic fantasy of love, war, murder, marriage, and fate.




The Rare & The Mundane — 3 Comments

  1. We have some weird zoning laws in Oregon that protect wetlands in pockets. In my neighborhood, halfway up Mt. Hood, a standard building lot is currently 5 house/acre for a developer with money. What happens is the developer buys 2 acres of wetlands along with the land he wants to build on. Then he donates those 2 acres back to the county as protected wetlands. The 10 houses that could have been built on that land can then be added to what he’s planning to build on his other lot.

    Our wetland critters wander in and out of back yards not knowing they aren’t part of the protected area. Fortunately those who choose to live in the middle of nowhere in a resort community are protective of the critters, they are as much a part of our everyday life as our cats and dogs.

    Outside cats and small dogs don’t last long though, they become coyote lunch.