Kauai: A Bird-Watcher’s Paradise

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Discover exotic, rare, and unique birds to the Hawaiian Islands on your dream vacation in Kauai. Staying the in the North Shore is perfect since both the Hanalei Valley Game Refuge and Kilauea Lighthouse Refuge are just a short distance from Hanalei Colony. Kilauea Lighthouse is known for spotting amazing birds with a breathtaking backdrop, making it a perfect place to enjoy the afternoon and capture photographs of wild and endangered birds. Hiking and bird watching tours are available on the island as well. The Kokee Museum on Kauai’s west side offers native bird-watching hikes. Birdingpaltours offers a unique small group bird-watching experience, allowing you and an experienced guide to plan a tour so you get to see and do exactly what you want.

Pueo Hawaiian Brown Owl: Like many other cultures, owls are considered mystical and sacred in native Hawaiian culture. In the Hawaiian dictionary Pueo has many meanings, including a taro, staff of life. Interestingly, Pueo laid several white eggs over months, where their young grow up together representing several ages within the same nest. While their numbers are unknown, they span over all of the Hawaiian Islands and are considered an endangered species. Kauai is one of the best places to spot Pueo since a main predator, the mongoose, is not present on the island.

Albatross: With a six-foot wing span, the Albatross can be seen gliding over the North Shore cliffs. The Laysan Albatross is native to Hawaii, although they are generally found on the uninhabited islands of Hawaii. About twenty years ago, they migrated south to Kauai, and can be seen mainly in the North Shore.

Endangered Birds

‘Alae ‘Ula Hawaiian Gallinue (Moorhen): Standing at only thirteen inches tall, this slate-gray bird can easily be recognized by its red frontal shield on its face and yellow tipped bill. Spotting this bird will be difficult since they are very secretive and hide in dense vegetation. This bird is an endemic water bird found only in the Hawaiian Islands and is highly endangered with a total population estimated in the hundreds.

‘Alae Ke’oke’o Hawaiian Coot: This gray black bird is fourteen inches tall and recognizable for its white beak and black bulbous frontal shield, although some have a red frontal shield with white beak. They mainly live in Ka’elepulu Pond where they eat insects and plant life. In 2004 their population count was only fifty, making them an endangered species.

‘Ae’o Hawaiian Stilt: Easily spotted for its long pink legs and slender body, this endemic wetlands bird can be spotted in groups feeding on small insects, worms, crabs, seeds and vegetation. Also on the endangered species list, their numbers are at about 1,500. Decline in wetlands birds is thought to be caused by disturbances to the habitat and drainage of marshes.

Koloa Hawaiian Duck: Probably a descendant of the Mallard, both the male and female Koloa resembled the smaller female, although the male Koloa is darker. Their vocals are softer than a Mallard and most Koloa are hybrids and not purebred. Koloa enjoy eating snails, earthworms, dragonflies, algae and wetland plants. Koloa are also list as an endangered species.

Whether you go on a tour, or explore the wildlife refuges yourself, bird-watching in Kauai will be fun, memorable and offer you amazing photo opportunities. Enjoy your vacation and see if you can spot all of the birds on this list!

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