Nene | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

nene hawaiian goose

Nene Overview


The Nene or Hawaiian goose, is a medium-sized bird with a distinctive appearance. It has a dark brownish-black head and neck, which contrasts with its buff-colored cheeks and crown.

The body is covered in brownish-gray feathers with fine barring. Its legs are dark and relatively short. Nene are known for their graceful and slender build, and they often display a calm and regal demeanor.

Origins And Evolution

The Nene, or Hawaiian goose (Branta sandvicensis), is a unique waterfowl species endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Its evolutionary history is marked by adaptation to the isolated Hawaiian archipelago.

Nene is believed to have originated from a common ancestor shared with the Canada goose, evolving into a distinct species after reaching the Hawaiian Islands around 500,000 years ago. Over time, their physical traits adapted to their new environment, such as reduced webbing on their feet, which is a reflection of their terrestrial lifestyle.

Their limited range and isolation from continental predators allowed them to become flightless, an uncommon trait among geese. Today, Nene is a conservation success story, as their populations have rebounded from near-extinction due to habitat preservation and active management efforts.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Nene, or Hawaiian geese, are diurnal herbivores famous for their grazing behavior. They primarily feed on a variety of vegetation, including grasses, leaves, and berries. They are often found in family groups and exhibit strong social bonds, particularly during the breeding season.

Nene are monogamous birds that form long-term pair bonds, and both parents share in incubating and caring for their young. Their terrestrial lifestyle is adapted to the Hawaiian Islands, where they are well-suited to their native habitats, including volcanic slopes and grasslands.

Nene (Hawaiian goose) Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Anseriformes
  • Family: Anatidae
  • Genus: Branta
  • Species: sandvicensis

Nene Locations

  • Hawaiian Islands
  • Maui
  • Kauai
  • Hawaii (Big Island)
  • Molokai
  • Lanai

Fast Facts

  • Name: Nene Goose
  • Scientific Name: Branta sandvicensis
  • Habitat: Hawaiian Islands
  • Diet: Herbivorous Grazer
  • Physical Features: Short Neck
  • Nocturnal: Diurnal Feeder
  • Solitary: Social Bird
  • Unique Order: Anseriformes Order
  • Lifespan: 25 Years
  • Conservation Status: Endangered Species
  • Fun Facts: Hawaii's State Bird

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Brown Plumage
  • Skin Type: Feathery Body
  • Top Speed: Slow Walker
  • Lifespan: Up to 25 Years
  • Weight: Moderate Size
  • Length: Short Neck
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: 2 Years
  • Age of Weaning: N/A (Not applicable)

Nene (Hawaiian goose) FAQs

Are Nene true geese or ducks?

Nene are true geese and belong to the goose family Anatidae.

What is the conservation status of the Nene?

The Nene is classified as "endangered." However, conservation efforts have been successful in increasing their populations.

Does Nene migrate like some other waterfowl?

Nene are not migratory birds; they are non-migratory and have adapted to the Hawaiian Islands.

What is the significance of the Nene to Hawaiian culture?

Nene is a symbol of Hawaiian wildlife. They are also the official state bird of Hawaii.

What is the primary diet of the Nene?

Nene are herbivorous and primarily feed on grasses, leaves, and berries.


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