Aeʻo, kūkuluaeʻo, or kulukuluaeʻo (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni), a.k.a. the Hawaiian stilt. In the Kumulipo, it is the offspring of the Kioea and emerges in the wā ʻakolu along with other migratory, wetland, and marine manu. These elegant birds are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands (not found on Lānaʻi and Kahoʻolawe) and are known to fly between them. They hang out in shallow wetland habitats and munch on aquatic invertebrates, small fish, baby crabs, roots, and seeds. Less than 30% of Hawaiʻi's original wetland areas are left today - one of the main reasons this species is endangered (approximately 1,100-1,800 birds are left in Hawaiʻi nei). Mongooses, feral dogs, and cats prey upon this species, making survival even tougher. Significant numbers of these birds still frequent places like Hanalei (Kauaʻi), Pouhala (Puʻuloa, Oʻahu), Keālia (Maui), and ʻŌhiʻapilo (Molokai). Until 1939, people could still take these birds for food. A 1925 issue of the Nūpepa Kūʻokoʻa listed the legal take as 25 birds a day. Imagine how abundant these birds were back then! According to scholar David Malo, they had sweet flesh and were easily caught by pelting them with stones (they had mad skills back then). The most striking feature of this gorgeous bird is certainly its long, slender, bright pink legs. Our ancestors used the same terms as names for the stilts they built from the wood of the ʻohe tree (Reynoldsia sandwicensis).
Kuʻu hoa kini kohu a loloa o ka wāwae - My fine-looking, long-legged friend.