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‘Hawk Week’ to spread awareness of Hawaiian hawk

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The first virtual “Hawk Week” is being held in Hawaii to bring awareness to the native Hawaiian hawk.

The conservation effort will consist of virtual talks and presentations to appreciate the Hawaiian hawk, or ʻio, which is endemic to Hawaii. The weeklong effort will start Sunday and will run through Oct. 15, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a news release. More information can be found at www.birdfesthawaii.org.

The DLNR, along with other government and nonprofit entities, collaborated to organize Hawk Week after the repeated injuries to an individual ʻio named Makaʻio.

Makaʻio, a 3-year-old male bird that lives at the Hawaii Wildlife Center in north Kohala, came to the center in 2019 and is under the care of veterinarian Dr. Juan Guerra and his team.

“His main problems were an eye injury and a soft-tissue wing injury,” Guerra said in a statement. “His wing injury healed fine, but he can’t see out of his right eye anymore. As birds of prey, ‘Io don’t do well out in the wild if they’re unable to see with both eyes.”

Makaʻio, with state and federal approval, is being kept at the wildlife center as an “education bird.”

DLNR education specialists have been offering programs to Hawaii island public schools to provide information about the hawk species and the threats they face from people.

“Protecting our native wildlife is huge. If people know there is a community that cares about these birds, perhaps that will stop some people from shooting at them,” said Ray McGuire, a wildlife biologist for the DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, in a statement. “We want to remind people that ‘Io and many other native birds are protected under both federal and state laws.”

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