Explore Blog

Sihek (Guam Kingfisher) at Tracy Aviary

Written by Arcia Tecun

Sihek is the CHamoru word for the Guam Kingfisher. CHamoru is the language of the Indigenous peoples of Guåhan (Guam), which is currently an unincorporated territory of the United States. Guåhan has been populated for about the last 3500 years and one version of their creation story includes that the cosmic and physical world was made out of the body of Puntan, whereas people emerged out of the body of Puntan’s sister Fu`una which was used to make Fouha Rock, or the founding creation point on the island. There are many powerful symbols embedded with generations of knowledge in the language and culture of the peoples of Tåsi (Ocean in CHamoru), as well as in the story of the Siheks, be it the colonial legacy Sihek’s disappearance represents, or the Indigenous reclamation found in using the CHamoru name for this bird and its imminent reintroduction to the Tåsi region. Reintroductions will begin at Palmyra Atoll with the hopes of one day extending to a return to Guåhan. A short film below demonstrates the intersections of aviculture, horticulture, and community in caring and connecting to Sihek at Tracy Aviary. The aviculture team share how they care for Sihek and their role in supporting this conservation project. The horticulture team shares how plants are connected in the context of this exhibit as a tropical hub. Tåsi/Madau/Moana (Ocean in CHamoru, Pohnpeian, and Tongan) community members share perspectives of living here and their connections to Sihek as well as to Kingfishers in general and their cultural significance.

You can watch the film here (8 min 30 sec):

One of the messages I hope you take from this film is how supporting care for Sihek and learning from their story is important on its own, but at the same time also extends to the responsibility we have for local conservation. Kehau mentions how the Sikotā (Kingfisher in the Tongan language) is culturally significant and extends it to the belted kingfishers found along Pia Okwai (big flow/river, Utah’s Jordan River), making connections and seeing personal responsibilities to place. She mentions Dr. Tēvita Ka’ili who was featured in the Stories of Place project that you can learn more about here.

If you would like to support the work Tracy Aviary does such as this project and Sihek conservation you can learn more about how to make donations here

You can also volunteer with our aviculture and horticulture teams which you can learn more about here.

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