Perhaps the most finch-like survivor of the holocaust that has wiped out most of Hawaii's native avifauna (which began around 800 A.D. when the first Polynesians arrived) is the Palila. It's frustrating to many that we don't have real English names for most of the native Hawaiian birds, but at least this one is easily pronounceable. (We're not forced to call endemic Japanese birds by their Japanese names after all, so....)
In any event, we were fantastically lucky to spot one within 10 minutes of arriving at the preserve in the distinctive, semi-dry Mamane-Naio woodland this bird needs. As we were leaving, a visiting birder from Portland arrived for his fourth attempt to find the bird on his own. Rob Pacheco spotted one within the minute and we got one in the scope for him. Sometimes it does pay to hire a professional. I managed just a couple poor digiscoped images.
In the past 20 years the population of this bird has gone from about 4000 to 1000, despite protection. But it seems that a lot more could be done, with this little preserve surrounded by cattle country. Has any pointed out that there is simply no compelling need to raise even a single cow in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Yet there are hundreds and thousands of them – and probably even more feral goats, sheep, etc. The annual resources needed to give all these birds a huge help would be a drop in the bucket compared to what we spend on our military each day. Think about it.