What a bright and cheery pair of birds! The 'Alauahio looks most similar to a more common Hawaiian bird known as the 'Amakihi without the black eye lores, brighter yellow plumage and a smaller beak. The 'Alauahio lives only on Maui and is close to extinction, but conservation projects are in the works to raise their numbers by protecting their existing habitat and possibly extend the 'Alauahio's range on Maui.
It's been a long morning for our patient 'Alauahio awaiting her beau on a branch of Lehua blossoms. When he finally arrives, it's like he never left. Let's give them some time to themselves!
The Nene is our Hawaiian state bird. Also known as the Hawaiian Goose, the Nene is native to Hawaii and has adapted to live on the rough lava and shrublands with less webbed feet and neutral lava toned feathers.
Our Nene family decided to take a trip to 'Iao Valley for a cool, lush adventure. 'Iao Valley is infamous as the bloodiest battle on Maui when King Kamehameha sought to unite the islands under his reign. Now you would never know that such a violent battle occurred at 'Iao. It is full of green, vibrant life. The stream (after rains) has the tranquil sound heard on dream music. The little Nenes are having a great time hiking and swimming. And finally Mom and Dad can share a little kiss for themselves!
As part of my Ke Aloha Series, the Nene parents are forming a kissing heart. A portion of profits made from the sale of each Ke Aloha painting goes towards conservation efforts in Hawaii. So many of our native Hawaiian birds have become extinct or are dangerously close to extinction. Conservation projects are geared towards helping surviving species grow in numbers and hopefully thrive in the future.
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I finished my painting from the sketch I posted a few days ago. This came out so cheery and fun!
The Kiwikiu, Maui Parrotbill, is a native Hawaiian bird found on Maui. They are critically endangered and conservation projects are working hard to bring back their numbers. One of their favorite fruits to eat comes from the 'Akala plant. These fruits are known as the giant Hawaiian raspberries. Only tasty to humans when super ripe, the 'akala fruit is perfect pickings for the Kiwikiu as it ripens in the wild.
My couple here are taking time to give each other a loving gaze. Just a reminder to enjoy each moment together.
I have painted the three little bird idea before, but this time they came out just great. With their big comical eyes, the Japanese White-Eyes sure make you feel welcome. They are a reminder that no matter the stature of the welcomer, the celebration of coming home is always a grand event.
Every girl deserves a diamond, and this Java Sparrow male took the term "big rock" to heart and brought his lady to Diamond Head. The Java Sparrow was introduced to Hawaii but remain in the valleys and urban areas where they can feed off grains and bird feeders. When they get together, Javas get really chatty and often spar with each other. As a pair, they are like love birds. If you are patient, you may see the male sing a little song and dance a little dance for his lady. He'll do anything to make her smile:)
The Maui Parrotbill is the most endangered bird in Maui. There are only about 500 birds in existence today, although the conservationists on Maui are attempting to increase those numbers by creating another compatible area on the drier side of Haleakala. The Hawaiian name "Kiwikiu" was given to the Maui Parrotbill just four years ago. "Kiwi" means curved (like their beak) and "kiu" loosley means chilly wind (their habitat) and secretive or private (their behavior).
The 'Akala is one for the Kiwikiu's favorite fruit. Known to locals as the giant Hawaiian raspberry, 'Akala is an endemic plant with fruit that can grow to be two inches long. People don't want to eat the 'Akala raspberry until it's super ripe, which makes it perfect pickings for the Kiwikiu.
These two are sharing a quick loving gaze before digging into a feast!
I have realized that now that I am painting a lot of larger canvases, I am not having a single painting finished every day. So today I have a sketch for a future painting of Java Sparrows. They will be blissful and lost in the moment. One snuggling his beak against her head... eyes closed for both or just one? I haven't decided yet. But it's a start!
The 'Alauahio (Maui Creeper) is a beautiful yellow bird. They live only in Maui on the slopes of Haleakala. Although abundant in this small area, the 'Alauahio's survival depends on the conservation of their habitat.
Curiosity plays a role in the 'Alauahio's personality. If intrigued, they will come right up to people to check things out. These two are doing just that. They found a great welcoming sign in a jacaranda tree and decided to see who's coming to visit.
In Hawaii it is customary to brings lei of flowers to welcome guests to the islands. These two were kind enough to bring a whole tree!
By now I'm sure most people have figured out that I like the birds... As an actively selling artist, I have incorporated the donation of some of my proceeds to go towards conservation projects within the state of Hawaii. I am a member of the Audobon Society and American Bird Conservancy (abc birds), and I love receiving emails and magazines with information on birds around the world. Yesterday I received an ABC email and a little Elf Owl was there to greet me.
We do not have Elf Owls in Hawaii. They are one of the smallest owls (hence the name), weighing in at less than 1.5 ounces. They are found mostly in North America.
Being such a small guy, this Elf Owl is always having to look up if he's anywhere up way up high in a tree or inside a cactus burrow. But being small doesn't mean you can't have a big personality. And what he lacks in size, he makes up in his incredible songs and big beautiful eyes.
Clients and new friends Kathleen and Stephen proposed a new commission for Kathleen last month. I created a sunflower/'Apapane painting for Kathleen as a hush-hush Christmas gift from Stephen this past year and they came to Big Island to say Hi!
The story of Smokey and Lil Blue is a lot of wonderful and a little bit of sad.
Smokey was Kathleen's baby lovebird. One day, Lil Blue popped out of the blue and decided he wanted to live with Kathleen and Smokey. He was welcomed in with open arms (and wings).
Smokey and Lil Blue were best of friends, and life was good. They would share snuggles and watch wild birds out the window together. But life has a way of ending too soon in some cases, and Smokey passed away leaving Lil Blue behind. Kathleen said that she could tell Lil Blue was grieving and then the most amazing thing happened. The wild birds that Smokey and Lil Blue would watch together started visiting Lil Blue. They sat on the window sill to pay respects and this happened all day long for quite some time. Kathleen said it was as though they knew Smokey was gone and Lil Blue needed some support.
People always joke about being a "bird brain". After hearing this story, I'd say being a "bird heart" would be quite the complement!
Karen Obuhanych (kto ART) is a Hawaii-based artist who relishes in the simple, happy moments of everyday life.