Wai (water) is everything in Hawai‘i. The islands receive some of the highest rainfall in the world and that rain cascades through the forest ahupua‘a (watershed), creating different types of wetlands along the way. These include high altitude bogs in the mountains, freshwater wetlands and coastal wetlands. In some areas, the volcanic landscape has created anchialine pools; these are brackish ecosystems in volcanic rock with a connection to the ocean.
The greatest threats to wetlands on the islands include non-native plants (especially mangrove, pickleweed and cattail); introduced fish; non-native predators; pollution from cesspools; agricultural runoff and contaminated storm water. Sea level rise and storm surges resulting from climate change are also significant issues. Habitats will be indundated and waters will become more brackish. At the same time, wetland areas may spring up in new areas – requiring innovative responses to manage and protect them.
Other Habitats Our Birds Need
Arctic and Subarctic Tundra
Alaska has vast expanses of arctic and subalpine tundra characterized by low temperatures, permafrost, and a short growing season.
Alaska’s boreal forest spans most of interior Alaska. It is a mosaic of evergreens, deciduous trees and shrubs that create a patchwork of ecosystems across the landscape.
Coastal Dunes and Beaches
Coastal dunes and beach communities face a dynamic, harsh environment that requires plants to have unique survival mechanisms.
Conifer forests, including our magnificent temperate rainforests, dominate the Pacific Northwest from California to southeast Alaska.
Estuaries occur where freshwater rivers meet the salt waters of the ocean. They are one of most biologically rich habitats on Earth, thanks to the mixing of nutrients from both the land and sea.
Freshwater wetlands are the hallmark of the Pacific Americas Flyway. Wetlands are subject to periodic flooding and are further characterized by their soil type, hydrology and vegetation.
Hawaiian Montane Forest
‘Ohi’a and in some areas koa trees dominate the canopy of the lush cloud forests found on the higher elevations of Kaua’i, Maui, Hawai’i, O’ahu, and Moloka’i.
Hawaii’s freshwater wetlands support the Ae’o, or Hawaiian Stilt, and five other species of endemic, endangered waterbirds.
Intertidal Rocky Shorelines
Rocky shorelines along the North Pacific coastline occupy the region between high and low tide. They may be rocky cliffs, boulder rubble, wave-pounded shelves, or sheltered rocky shores.
Oak and Prairie
Oak and prairie ecosystems support a unique suite of specialized birds. They are home to a handful of imperiled species such as Streaked Horned Lark and Oregon Vesper Sparrow.
An atoll is a coral reef island, or islets. They are are characteristically ring-shaped with a central lagoon, and sometimes a central island.
Pelagic habitats, one of many habitats in the marine environment, include the open ocean. Birds that spend time in the pelagic zone must be able to withstand the salt water, wind and waves–and some do for years at a time.
Riparian corridors occur along rivers and streams and across floodplains and terraces. Healthy riparian systems have a dense plant cover that provides shade, predator protection, food, and nesting habitat for resident and migratory birds.