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"Birds of a Feather" Hawaiian Culture Night Program on Mauna Kea

Claudia Ziroli speaks this Saturday on native Hawaiian birds
Claudia Ziroli speaks this Saturday on native Hawaiian birds
Leilehua Yuen

Naturalist Claudia Ziroli shares this month on the interrelationship of the people, the environment, and traditional Hawaiian culture in this presentation on the birds of Mauna Kea.

At one time, vast forests of native māmane trees grew on the slopes of Mauna Kea. Ravaged by the over grazing of ungulates, the few remaining trees are the primary food source for Hawaii’s native Palila. Mauna Kea’s forested slopes are also home to `Apapapne, `Amakihi, `I`iwi, `Elepaio and `Akiapoli`au.

Hawaiian artists and artisans developed an extensive body of featherworked items for apparel and ceremonial display. From skirts to statuary, helmets to cloaks, chiefly ceremonial items were intricately feathered. The birds that provided these feathers were captured and managed in a variety of ways that assured a continuous supply. The kia manu, the bird catcher not only harvested the birds, but watched over the health of the bird populations.

The program features the storytelling, chanting, and hula of Leilehua Yuen, and the stories, traditional Hawaiian flute music, and guitar music of Manu Josiah.

Ziroli hs been a devoted bird watcher throughout her life, and developed her interest in Hawaiian birds while working with local experts in the field. She has worked as a naturalist on the Island of Hawai`i for the past 20 years through the University of Hawai`i at Hilo.

After the presentation, join the star party on the lanai of the Ellison Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, and enjoy the beauty of the stars from one of the world’s premier sites for astronomy.

Those who come to the Maunakea culture night talks should wear layers, including a nice warm jacket. Socks and shoes are recommended, and gloves are recommended. Bring a bottle of water to drink, and a flashlight. Be polite to those who are stargazing and cover the light with a red lens or filter. Tissues for those whose noses run in cold weather are good, as well. Please read this link for more safety information.

For those unfamiliar with the island, there are no streetlights on the road up the mountain. We must preserve our beautiful dark skies! And, Mauna Kea sticks her head up above the clouds, which means you will be driving through them, so plan for at least an hour of travel time from Hilo. Please read this link for driving information.

Hawai`i is now in the season of Kau, the brilliant summer months, and also the hurricane season, 1 June through 30 November. The rains are less frequent, and the dry spells lengthening. And yet, weather can still be quite changeable, especially on the Hilo/Hāmākua uplands.

We are about midway through the Hawaiian month of Ka`aona. The air is still and humid.

Some prominent stars and constellations this month are: Hānaiakamalama (Cared for by the Moon), also known as the Southern Cross; Hōkū Le`a (Happy Star), also known as Arcturus; Pūnana (Nest), also known as Hōkū Pa`a (Fixed Star), in English called the North Star; `Iwa Wahine (Lady Frigate Bird), known in English as the Big Dipper; and Na Hiku (The Seven), or Ursa Major.

For more information on the Malalo i ka Pō Lani culture night programs at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, contact the Mauna Kea Visitor’s Information Station. Phone: (808) 961-2180 Fax: (808) 969-4892. You can also visit us on FaceBook at our page, Ma Lalo o ka Pō Lani.

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