Nene | Hawaii State Bird Facts


Nene (Branta sandvicensis)

State Bird: Hawaii


Key Facts

Life Span25 to 32 Years
FlightFlying Bird

Conservation Status

Conservation Status Vulnerable




Weight2000-3000 g
Wing Span27-31 cm
Length53-66 cm

Taxonomic Serial Number                                175016

Compared to the Average State Bird

How the Nene measures up:

  • Wing span5cm and 14% smaller than the average state bird’s wingspan (36cm).
  • Weight2,915g3,429%, and 35 times heavier than the average state bird’s weight (85g)
  • Length39cm144%, and 2.4 times longer than the average state bird’s length (27cm)

Scientific Classification

AnimaliaChordataAvesAnseriformesAnatidaeBranta sandvicensis


Appearance Description

AppearanceBlack face, head and neck; buff-colored cheeks; appears to have black stripes on neck because of white feather patterns showing the black skin underneath. Males and females have similar plumage but males are larger in stature.
Male AppearanceMales are typically larger.



DietDry grass and native shrubs which vegetate lava fields. At the Nene sanctuary they are fed bird chow, water hyacinth, lettuce and papaya.
Communication StylesLoud honk; soft murmuring while beak is closed. Similar in quality to the Canadian Goose.
Migratory BehaviorNon-migratory

Range of Habitation

Range of Habitation


While the Nene used to range throughout all of the islands, feeding on the lower slopes of all the mountains and coastal areas, the arrival of man has pushed the population largely to the slopes of Mauna Loa, Kilauea, and Hualalai.


The Nene has no predators other than the occasional house cat.

Mating and Breeding

Breeding Overview

Breeding BehaviorTypically establish monogamous partnerships and mate on land. Eggs are laid in ground nests concealed under low shrubs guarded by the male.
Breeding SeasonAugust through May
NestingConstructed on the ground, lined with down, and generally well concealed under bushes. Nenes often prefer to nest in the same location.
Nesting and IncubationThe incubation period is about 30 days.


ColorPearly white. Similar in shape and size to a chicken egg.
Clutch Size3 to 5 egg(s)
Egg Laying MonthsOctober through May

Chick description

Gray balls of fuzzy down feathers with soft beaks. While hatchlings (goslings) are able to feed on their own very quickly, they flightless for 11-14 weeks, and will follow their parents for 5-6 months as they feather out.


Birding Facts

Interesting FactAlmost became extinct in late 1940s because of unregulated hunting and invasive predators, the Nene population has slowly recovered though still vulnerable.
Best Season to ObserveAutumnSpringSummerWinter
Observation TipsFound on Hawai’i, Maui and Kaua’i; they are social, naturally inquisitive and easy to find, especially late afternoon and early evening.
Other NamesNēnē and Hawaiian Goose


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