Collectors, Stewardship, and the Palila
This chapter focuses on the Palila, Loxioides bailleui—a critically endangered honeycreeper on the Big Island whose survival is entangled with law, politics, culture, and biology. The bird historically inhabited Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, and the Big Island, but now is found only on the latter. A nexus of collectors and publications swirled around the first descriptions of the Palila's life history and, simultaneously, around the discovery of other new Hawaiian birds in the last decade of the nineteenth century. The Palila was first named as such in an 1890 publication, but it did not live in a vacuum—rather, it was part of an ecosystem of discoveries, birds, plants, and naturalists, whose work in the last decade of the nineteenth century created a constant buzz of interest and discovery for Western science.
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