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Hawaii Flora and Fauna

The seeds of most plant species were carried to Hawaii by birds, winds, or currents and tides, bringing about extensive forestation, shrubbery, and grasslands, where soil and precipitation were favourable. Since the first Polynesian settlement a tremendous variety of food and ornamental plant life from many parts of the world has been introduced.

Food plants grown commercially or in backyards for home consumption include sugarcane, pineapples, papayas, bananas, mangoes, guavas, lichee, coconuts, avocados, breadfruit, macadamia nuts, limes, passion fruit, taros, and tamarinds. Nearly all varieties of common garden vegetables are raised in the islands, and flowers abound all year.

Endemic birds, long isolated from others of their kind, have taken on certain characteristics of their own. These include the nene (Hawaiian goose), the Hawaiian stilt, and a variety of small forest birds. Some species have become extremely rare, but as the result of an increased environmental awareness, great strides have been taken to preclude their extinction. Seabirds nest in profusion on the western islands of the archipelago and to a far lesser extent among the major eastern islands.

There has been considerable importation of birdlife. Quantities of mynas, sparrows, cardinals, and doves live in the trees in both urban and country areas. Every fall the small golden plover make an awe-inspiring, nonstop 3,000 mile (4,800 km) flight from Alaska to Hawaii, where they spend the winter, together with ducks from Alaska, Canada, and the northwestern United States.

Wild animal life includes mongooses, rats, frogs, toads, and, in the more remote regions of some of the islands, deer, sheep, pigs, and goats. The insect population is multitudinous, and marine life abounds in Hawaiian waters.

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