A famous paradise such as Hawaii is popular for its world-class beaches, one-of-a-kind scenery and landscapes and tropical island vibes. However, this state is missing something that you would have never thought about and for a very good reason.
There are more than 300 bird species in Hawaii. Some came to Hawaii by chance, and some were introduced by humans. The process of colonization and dispersal is still going on. Some bird species are more successful than others in establishing populations, which depends on various factors.
You would think that with the widespread of flowers and vibrant colors, this state would have hummingbirds flying all over. However, there are no hummingbirds in Hawaii. In fact, there’s a ban on these tiny birds! You wouldn’t believe the reason for the ban. You see, hummingbirds love nectar. They inadvertently pollinate after feeding on sweet flowers, and as a result, fruits develop seeds, especially pineapple. The national fruit of Hawaii happens to be pineapple, which people serve everywhere. Seeds in this fruit make it unappealing, which is why hummingbirds aren’t welcome in this state.
Now that you know why there are no hummingbirds in Hawaii, let’s take a look at the matter and answer a few questions about Hawaii has banned these tiny birds:
Reasons Why There Are No Hummingbirds in Hawaii
The top two reasons why Hawaii does not have hummingbirds are the journey to this island that these would have to take and the crop that grows on this island. Just because the state does not have this pollinator, doesn’t mean Hawaii produces fruits artificially. First, we will discuss the reason behind the ban and then the pollinators in Hawaii:
Hawaii Is a Remote Archipelago
Hawaii is a remote island group. This means that any bird species living here either fly to the state or humans introduced them. While they can’t stop the migration of birds except for monitoring what flies in, they can ban humans from bringing in certain species.
When the volcanoes emerged in Hawaii, there was no animal or plant life. Over the years, everything made its way to the island. The eight islands form the peak of volcanic mountains. The hot molten magma hardened slowly by the ocean water, and that is how Hawaii came into existence.
Since the islands formed in isolation, no creatures on them called it home. A few species flew here, the first of which happened to be a bird that traveled 8 million years ago from East Asia. Among these birds, one that couldn’t contact Hawaii was hummingbirds. Maybe, their tiny wings didn’t allow them to weather the rough winds of the vast ocean. Similarly, woodpeckers, too, couldn’t make it to Hawaii. Though you can find owls in Hawaii, they belong to one native species.
The Local Farmers Are Not a Fan of Hummingbirds
Hawaii hasn’t banned hummingbirds because they can’t thrive here. It all comes down to the state’s mistakes of introducing animal species not native to this place. Hawaii introduced barn owls and mongooses to decrease the rodent population in the past. However, none of these animals did the trick. Instead, they wreaked havoc on the local ecosystem. Because of this reason, Hawaii also has a ban on hamsters and snakes.
Bird Species Living in Hawaii
While Hawaii doesn’t have hummingbirds, it does have a similar bird, which is more like a moth belonging to the same species. Called the hummingbird moth (Macroglossum pyrrhosticta), burnt-spot hummingbird hawk moth, or maile pilau hornworms, these moths get their name from the host plant caterpillars prefer.
These moths look exactly like hummingbirds, but there are a couple of differences between them, which include:
- The size of the moth is an inch longer than the hummingbird
- The speed of the moth is faster than the hummingbird. Its wings beat more than 100 times/second (Even using a camera with 1/200th shutter speed, their winds will be a blur)
- The beak of the moth is longer and thinner than the hummingbird and is called a proboscis.
These moths are diurnal. They forage for plants and flowers during the day. Like bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, these moths also pollinate.
The next most common bird in Hawaii that has a striking resemblance to hummingbirds is the Hawaiian honeycreepers. These birds also like nectar. They come from the line of cardueline finches, like canaries and goldfinches. There are multiple bird species, having a wide range of beak shapes and colors.
This is how Hawaiians can differentiate between hummingbirds, hummingbird moths, and honeycreepers. Let’s take a look at a few facts about hummingbird moths that will further clear why Hawaii has banned its standard bird species:
Similarities to Hummingbird: As explained earlier, hummingbird moths look exactly like hummingbirds, except for a few features, such as their beak and body structure, which has an oval shape and a grayish-brown color. However, they might be a little difficult to distinguish because they make the same humming and buzzing sound through their wings like hummingbirds. Their wings beat 70 times/second, which allows them to fly at a speed of 12 mph. This means they can pollinate very fast and ruin thousands of pineapple plants.
Sucking Nectar: Hummingbird moths have a very long tongue. It resembles a proboscis and coils inside their head. When sucking nectar, the tongue rolls out and goes deep into the flower. Since its tongue is double the length of its body, the moth can drink a lot in just a few seconds. This makes them faster pollinators, which is not something the pineapple plantation industry in Hawaii is a fan of.
Day and Night Pollination: Having a hummingbird moth as a pollinator is enough for Hawaii. These moths pollinate day and night, which is why Hawaii does not have any space for any more pollinators. Add the honeycreepers into the mix, and the island does not want other pollinators. The higher the pollination level, the seedier their pineapples will be, which neither locals nor tourists like.
Attracting Hummingbird Moths: You have probably heard that the red color attracts hummingbirds. Many homeowners use this knowledge to their advantage to attract them into their backyards. When it comes to hummingbird moths, they don’t gravitate towards red. They prefer tubular blooms in different colors. They mostly like light-colored white blossoms that attract them by scent and sight in the evening.
Their Unique Name: Hummingbird moths are often called hawk moths. This is because of their streamlined wings that make them agile and fast fliers. Since they don’t affect the pollination process much, Hawaiian pineapple planters don’t see them as a threat.
In conclusion, there’s a ban on hummingbirds in Hawaii because they have the potential to wreak havoc on the pineapple plantation industry. Heavy pollinators make pineapples seedier, which people don’t like.
Hawaii doesn’t need to worry about hummingbirds invading their island because the journey to this state is not only long but full of rough winds, which is too difficult for the hummers to cross.