Wanderer in the Western Pacific

Michael W. Gillette


During my enlistment in the Navy, I've had the rare opportunity to visit many exotic places which most people merely dream of seeing. My current duty assignment is onboard the nuclear aircraft carrier Enterprise CYN-65. We left our home port at the Naval Air Station Alameda, California, on the 4th of April of this year on our way to a seven-month cruise of the Western Pacific.

I had mixed feelings about going overseas again for such a lengthy time, mainly due to the fact that I'd miss our birds at home in Lompoc, California. My sister, Andrea, and myself had just added on to our aviaries and acquired some new birds. The Redrumps were nesting and had five eggs, which were due to hatch very soon. It was a very trying period knowing that my time was growing short at home. On the other hand, I was looking forward to seeing friends I had made the previous years in Hobart, Tasmania and Subic Bay, Phillippines. Finally, I did set in my mind that I would have to leave the states and would make the best of the whole affair.

Our first inport visit enroute to Subic Bay was on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. We were tied up at the carrier pier in Pearl Harbor during the two brief days we were there. The aft section of the Enterprise faced the Arizona memorial and many parts of Japanese-sunk ships of the raid on Pearl Harbor were visible in the clear waters.

A friend of mine on board the ship told me of the Honolulu Zoo, which was suppose to have one of the best collections of birds anywhere. Well, l had to see it and get some pictures of the birds; l thought to myself. On arriving at the zoo and viewing what they had, it became clear to me that my friend had no real appreciation for the collection at the San Diego Zoo. Maybe I set my comparative idea of a fine bird collection too high - after all, San Diego Zoo is hard to beat! Their birds were in very good health and the aviaries were extremely spacious and nicely planted. However, I truely expected something a good deal more elaborate for the year-round tropical weather they can take advantage of in Hawaii.

Most of the birds we saw at the Honolulu Zoo were introduced species. I was very startled, to say the least, when we came across several separate pair of Brazilian Cardinals feeding out of sidewalk trash cans. They were very easy to approach, but would take to flight when a camera was pointed in their general direction. I managed to find a book store and purchased a more recent copy of Birds of Hawaii by George Munro, and a small but complete and very well illustrated pamphlet of Hawaii's Birds printed

by the Hawaiian Audubon Society. Male Bartlett's Bleeding-Heart Pigeon.

The following is my account of readily encountered introduced species and when they were introduced:

Species Introduced

Barred Dove (Geoplia striata striata) 1922

Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis chinensis} 1928

Peaceful Dove (Geopelia striata tranquilla] 1922

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus] 1871

House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus frontalis) 1870

Lavender Finch ( Estrilda caerulescens) Before 1930

Cordon-Bleu (Uraeginthus angolensis] Before 1930

Orange-Cheeked Waxbill ( Estrilda melpoda] Before 1930

White-Eye (Zosterops palpebrosus japonicus) 1929

Strawberry Finch [Amandava amandava] 1936

Virginia Cardinal ( Richmondena cardinalis) 1929

Brazilian Cardinal ( Paroaria cucullata) 1928

Common Mynah (Acridotheres tristis] 1865

There are many other introduced species to the Hawaiian islands, however, they don't frequent heavily human populated areas. Unfortunately, my time was very limited, so I didn't get to explore the island of Oahu thoroughly for some of the native birds. I was hoping to get pictures of the unique Hawaiian Honeycreepers at the Honolulu Zoo, but there were none to be seen. I'll go back to Hawaii in the future to pursue my bird watching and photography when l'm no longer limited to a short visit.

After another week at sea, we arrived at Subic Bay, Phillip pines for a ten-day in port period. This was a well needed and deserved break in all of the at sea time. I spent most of my time at a nearby beach collecting small sea shells, snorkel diving for tropical marine fish and getting a terrible sunburn which was my start to a fine tan.

All along, I had very serious intentions of going to Manila to visit the zoo and the Phillippine Department of Wilelife, where they keep many of the native birds for public viewing. Also, I wanted to get to the Cartirnar Market in Pasay City, which is a suburb of Manila. Cartimar Market is known for its many pet shops and has birds available from all over the Far East, Australia and, if course, the Phillippines at very reasonable prices. I was never able to swing the necessary off time to get to Manila, but will take leave there the next time we are in Subic Bay in late August. I'll give a full report on my visit to Manila when it eventuates.


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