We had repeated views of Hawaiian Goose, Hawaii's state bird, which is making a nice recovery -- with a lot of help from various conservation groups. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
Tell anyone you're headed for Hawaii, and they're immediately jealous; after all, we've all seen pictures of that beautiful state, with its lovely beaches, swaying palm trees, soaring mountains and lush forests. Birders, of course, know of other reasons to visit: a handful of rarer seabirds and those fabulously varied endemic "honeyeaters" -- long-ago strays that made it to the newly-emerged islands and radiated out over the millenia to become new species.
Hawaii's endemics are, of course, the stars of the show, and all but one of those we found (we're talking to you, Oahu Elepaio) performed very nicely indeed. A male Oahu Amakihi started us off, dropping down into to a nearby bush to check us out as we birded along a park road near Waikiki. A handsome burnt-orange Akepa danced across the sodden leaves of trailside tree. Iiwis flashed bright splashes of crimson against the forest, giving us repeated fine views of their dramatically curved beaks. A soberly-plumaged Omao settled in to sing from an open branch. A pair of Kauai Elepaios made repeated visits to their lichen-bedecked nest. Stubby-beaked Palilas gleamed in early morning sunshine. A female and immature Akiapolaau foraged over our heads, using their bizarre beaks to prise insects from the branches. A Hawaii Creeper crawled along a big tree trunk, foraging rather like a nuthatch. Hawaiian Hawks flapped past overhead. Hawaiian Coots chugged across taro fields, complaining loudly about intruding neighbors. Hawaiian Geese did their best lawnmower imitations at Kilauea Point Light and along the Saddle Road.
Of course, it isn't just the endemics that make birding in Hawaii fun; after all, there aren't many places (except perhaps in zoos) where you can see birds from nearly every continent together in one place! In Oahu, Common Waxbills (Africa) bounced across ball fields in the company of Scaly-breasted Munias and Java Sparrows (southeast Asia) while Rose-ringed Parakeets (India) investigated potential nest holes and Red-crested Cardinals (South America) sang their sweet songs from graceful Banyan trees. Sky Larks (Europe) hovered high overhead, their wonderfully wild songs drifting down to dusty grasslands where Wild Turkeys (North America) and Erckel's Francolins (Africa again) scrambled among last year's growth. And Japanese White-eyes swarmed through leafy vegetation everywhere.
More widespread "locals" also enlivened the proceedings. A pair of Barn Owls hunted over a field while two curious horses studied us. White Terns swirled like confetti over the trees outside our Waikiki hotel, occasionally settling onto a branch for a rest. Black Noddies flapped back and forth along the black lava cliffs at the end of Chain of Craters road, chasing and courting and checking out potential nesting ledges. Noisy Red-tailed Tropicbirds glided past our clifftop perch at Kilauea Light, their slim, scarlet tail feathers streaming out behind them. Short-eared Owls lurked atop spent mullein stems. Fuzzy Laysan Albatross chicks snoozed in suburban flower beds.
While few migrants make it to the islands -- which are, after all, a long way from everywhere else -- a handful of shorebird species are the exception. On north Oahu, we enjoyed spectacularly close views of a dozen or more Bristle-thighed Curlews, which strode around flower-strewn fields or posed on fence posts with their eponymous bristles flaring out for all the world to see (and nary a Grizzly Bear in sight). A couple of Wandering Tattlers, already wearing their barred-flank breeding plumage, poked along the water's edge at Kawaiele Ponds. And the numbers of Pacific Golden-Plovers (which we saw trotting across lawns and golf courses and road edges on every island) were just insane!
Thanks for joining Dan and me in the 50th state; it was good fun sharing some adventures! We hope to see you again on another trip someday soon.
KEYS FOR THIS LIST One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
HAWAIIAN GOOSE(Branta sandvicensis)– We found our first -- a few suspiciously tame pairs -- in the parking lot (and later munching the lawn) at the Kilauea Point Light. We saw warier birds at Kawaiele Ponds (with a fuzzy youngster in tow), Hakalau (waddling swiftly away from our grassy parking spot) and along the Big Island's Saddle Road. A handful on the Waikoloa golf course were a bit of a surprise; conservation efforts have happily proved quite effective, and the species is definitely on the increase![EN]
The spectacular northwestern coastline of Kauai, home to a burgeoning Red-footed Booby colony. Photo by participant Nikki Peterman.
MALLARD(Anas platyrhynchos)– The pair we found lurking in a tiny puddle under a picnic table in the park across the street from our Waikiki hotel were undoubtedly at least partly this species (though they may have been hybrids with the next species), and some of the group saw a few green-headed males on a pond near Hilo as we drove toward our Volcano hotel.
HAWAIIAN DUCK(Anas wyvilliana)– This is another Hawaiian endemic that's making a good recovery, thanks to extensive conservation efforts. We saw a few snoozing on the bunds separating the taro fields at Hanalei, a few fast flocks winging over Kawaiele Ponds and still others in various wetlands along the roads of Kauai. It was great to see an in-flight magazine article on this bird -- known in Hawaiian as "koloa". Too bad the Waikoloa Marriott had it on their menu -- hopefully as a generic for "duck"![E]
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
CALIFORNIA QUAIL(Callipepla californica)– We saw a handful along the Big Island's Saddle Road while transferring to our Waikoloa hotel, but our biggest numbers were seen at Pu'u La'au, where scores rose from the grasses to shoot off on whirring wings. Our best views probably came at Mauna Kea Park, where a singing lookout kept watch from a big pile of dead branches. This species was introduced for hunting.[I]
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
CHUKAR(Alectoris chukar)– A wary pair slunk away across a grassy bowl along Hawaii Island's Saddle Highway, and another pair scurried along the road ahead of our vans as we traversed the dirt road out of Hakalau Forest.[I]
GRAY FRANCOLIN(Francolinus pondicerianus)– Some of the group spotted a little group near the Waikoloa Marriott while waiting for Dan and me to sort out the group's check-in.[I]
BLACK FRANCOLIN(Francolinus francolinus)– Seen on Kauai and Hawaii, typically either in flight or perched up on a mound or low bush. Unfortunately, we often seemed to be in a spot where we couldn't stop for a better view! A couple of birds scurrying for cover along the side of the road as we descended from Waimea Canyon probably gave us our best chance for (quick) study; the black-faced, black-fronted male is pretty unmistakable.[I]
ERCKEL'S FRANCOLIN(Francolinus erckelii)– Some of the group saw a few in the middle of a dirt track that branched off from the 4-wheel drive road we took into Koke'e, en route to Alakai Swamp on Kauai, but our best looks came on Hawaii, where they proved quite common in the dry hills -- including many scurrying along the edges of the road into Hakalau NWR. This is the largest of the francolins introduced to the islands.[I]
The charming Kauai Elepaio, one of a trio of monarch flycatchers we spotted on the tour. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
JAPANESE QUAIL(Coturnix japonica)– One of these tiny quail leapt out of tall grass near the overlook at Pu'u La'au WMU after we'd stood there for long minutes, flying only a few yards before dropping back in. When we "walked it up" to see what it was, it flew further (and stronger) off into the distance. Like the rest of the pheasants, francolins and quail we saw on the trip, this species was introduced for hunting.[I]
RED JUNGLEFOWL(Gallus gallus)– Found on each island, though particularly abundant on Kauai, where scores wandered along roadsides or scratched in gardens. They came in just about every plumage color imaginable, including some that looked remarkably similar to their wild ancestors.[I]
KALIJ PHEASANT(Lophura leucomelanos)– Our first were a trio -- a male and two females -- strolling along the edge of the parking lot at Hill Lodge before our misty pre-breakfast walk there. Some of the group spotted the head of another male poking out of the tall grasses near the road in to Hakalau.[I]
RING-NECKED PHEASANT(Phasianus colchicus)– Scattered individuals on all three islands, including one that quickly disappeared into the tall grass behind our perched-up Bristle-thighed Curlews on Oahu, a snazzy male in a cutover area en route to Hakalau on Hawaii and one heard calling from a field near Waimea.[I]
WILD TURKEY(Meleagris gallopavo)– Especially common on the drive in to Hakalau, with many pairs sprinting off into the taller grasses. We saw others in the grasslands along the Saddle Road and a few near Waikoloa.[I]
There's something slightly surreal about seeing curly-plumed albatross chicks sitting calmly in flower beds in people's side yards! Our foray around Princeville netted us good views of a half dozen, plus a preening adult. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
LAYSAN ALBATROSS(Phoebastria immutabilis)– There's definitely something a bit surreal about seeing curly-plumed albatross chicks sitting calmly in flower beds in people's side yards! Our foray around Princeville netted us good views of a half dozen, including one lone preening adult. According to some journal articles I've been reading, the birds moved out of their Laysan Island stronghold back in the 1960s and 70s, expanding out onto a number of (relatively) nearby islands -- including Kauai and Oahu. [N]
Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
WEDGE-TAILED SHEARWATER(Puffinus pacificus)– Tens. Scores. Hundreds! This was the common species winging past on our pelagic off Kauai. We saw others low over the waves near the Kahuku golf course on Oahu or snoozing on their nests (shallow burrows or a "cave" created by low branches on bushes near the ticket booth) at the Kilauea Point Light. We heard the low moaning calls of many from their burrows under the bushes around the lighthouse.[N]
SOOTY SHEARWATER(Puffinus griseus)– At least two passed the boat on our pelagic, told from the more common Wedge-tailed Shearwaters by their silvery wing linings.
WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD(Phaethon lepturus)– Our biggest numbers came at the Waimea Canyon overlook, where we could watch nesting birds coming in from the sea. We also had small numbers around the Kilauea Point Light and a single bird on the pelagic. This species is smaller than the next, with dark markings on the upperwing.
RED-TAILED TROPICBIRD(Phaethon rubricauda)– Good numbers of these graceful fliers swirled around the Kilauea Point Light, calling and chasing each other; many were close enough that their scarlet central tail feathers were clearly visible. This species is larger than the previous, and frosty-white on the upperwing.[N]
GREAT FRIGATEBIRD(Fregata minor)– Small numbers at the Kilauea Point Light, generally hanging effortlessly over the water; we saw a few chasing after passing birds or (in one case) preening on a rock on an islet offshore.
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
The fabulous Iiwi is certainly one of the most spectacular of Hawaii's endemics. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
BROWN BOOBY(Sula leucogaster)– Small numbers along the coasts of all three islands, including a few cruising past at eye level near the Kilauea Point Light.
RED-FOOTED BOOBY(Sula sula)– Particularly common at Kilauea Point Light, where hundreds of adults on stick nests dotted a nearby hillside. Virtually all the birds we saw were white morph.[N]
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
CATTLE EGRET(Bubulcus ibis)– Daily on Oahu and Kauai, but (somewhat surprisingly) barely seen on the Big Island -- where they were first introduced.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON(Nycticorax nycticorax)– Small numbers on scattered days throughout the tour, including a couple standing in a water feature along the edge of the Waikoloa golf course.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
HAWAIIAN HAWK(Buteo solitarius)– The gang watched one hunting over the Hilo airport while Dan and I collected the vans, and we caught up with others elsewhere on the Big Island, including one perched briefly along the road into Hakalau, and another that appeared to make a grab (fortunately unsuccessfully!) at our juvenile Akiapolaau.[E]
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
The endemic subspecies of Black-necked Stilt on the islands (knudseni) is darker on the neck and face than mainland forms are. Photo by guide Dan Lane.
COMMON GALLINULE (HAWAIIAN)(Gallinula galeata sandvicensis)– Particularly common in the flooded taro fields at Hanalei, with others chugging across the ponds at Kawaiele (for those who didn't go on the boat trip). The subspecies "sandvicensis" is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.[E]
HAWAIIAN COOT(Fulica alai)– Also common in the Hanalei taro fields, with others at Kawaiele Ponds. This species, formerly considered to be a subspecies of the American Coot, shows two distinct color forms on the frontal shield: some are completely white, while others have a large maroon knob. We saw both.[E]
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (HAWAIIAN)(Himantopus mexicanus knudseni)– A dozen or two strode around the fringes of the taro fields at Hanalei, and others did the same at Kawaiele Ponds. This endemic subspecies is much blacker on the face and neck than are mainland forms.[E]
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER(Pluvialis fulva)– Daily, often in good numbers, trotting across lawns and golf courses and road edges on every island. Many were already in fine breeding plumage, while others were still in their duller winter colors (or something in between). It's amazing how tame these winter visitors are![b]
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WANDERING TATTLER(Tringa incana)– A couple, including one already in pretty good breeding plumage, were seen well along the edge of a few of the ponds at Kawaiele by those who missed the boat trip, and some of the group saw another near our Kauai hotel.[b]
BRISTLE-THIGHED CURLEW(Numenius tahitiensis)– Wonderful encounters with a handful of these big shorebirds on the fringes of a golf course on Kauai's northern coast; we were so close to one napping on a fence post that we could even see the eponymous bristles on its thighs! We had three color-banded birds, as well as one wearing a satellite transmitter pack -- and didn't once have to risk meeting up with a grizzly bear.[b]
RUDDY TURNSTONE(Arenaria interpres)– Small flocks of these winter visitors spotted on all three islands, including a few rummaging in the grass at the feet of the foraging Bristle-thighed Curlews on Oahu, and others flying past the mouth of the Hanapepe River (Kauai) as dusk fell.[b]
SANDERLING(Calidris alba)– One trotted along the edge of the sea lapping at Kauai's northern shore, seen from the Japanese graveyard near Kahuku golf course. This is a fairly common winter visitor.[b]
RED PHALAROPE(Phalaropus fulicarius)– One, still in its gray winter plumage, floated on the sea near our boat during the Kauai pelagic.[b]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
BROWN NODDY(Anous stolidus)– Surprisingly, we found only a single bird, seen on the Kauai pelagic.
BLACK NODDY (HAWAIIAN)(Anous minutus melanogenys)– Reasonably common at the end of the Chain of Craters road in Volcano NP; they appeared to be nesting (or at least checking out potential nesting ledges) on the sheer cliffs along the coast. This is another endemic subspecies.[E]
WHITE TERN(Gygis alba)– Plentiful around our Waikiki hotel, where they appeared to be checking the trees for potential nesting sites. It was good fun watching flocks of 10-12 wheeling around together, and we got a scope on a few of them when they eventually settled onto the branches. This species was formerly called "Fairy Tern".
GRAY-BACKED TERN(Onychoprion lunatus)– A handful of distant birds flapped over the waves northeast of the Kahuku golf course on Oahu; their flight style quickly separated them from the ubiquitous shearwaters.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON(Columba livia)– Daily, particularly around towns and cities.[I]
Up close, it's easy to see how the introduced Zebra Dove got its name. Photo by participant Charm Peterman.
SPOTTED DOVE(Streptopelia chinensis)– Also daily, including many close enough to clearly see their spotted napes.[I]
ZEBRA DOVE(Geopelia striata)– Common and widespread and seen every day, with especially nice studies of several pairs on the grassy lawns of the park across the street from our Waikiki hotel.[I]
BARN OWL(Tyto alba)– One flew across the road in front of us as we headed back to the hotel from our boat trip. We stopped to watch it hunt over a nearby field (quartering back and forth over a couple of curious horses), where it was soon joined by a second bird. This species was introduced to Hawaii from North America.[I]
SHORT-EARED OWL (HAWAIIAN)(Asio flammeus sandwichensis)– We spotted a couple in the half-light as we headed up to Waimea Canyon on Kauai -- one (nearly invisible) flying off to the right at a dark hairpin turn and a second perched on a utility wire high above the road. Fortunately, we had much better views of others on Hawaii, including several hunting over the grasslands on our way to Pu'u La'au. The subspecies found on the Hawaiian Islands is endemic.[E]
Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)
ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET(Psittacula krameri)– A handful chattered among the tamarisk trees outside our Waikiki hotel, checking out potential nest cavities, and we saw others -- including a flock of 37 flying past Kawaiele Ponds -- on Kauai.[I]
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
HAWAII ELEPAIO (MAUNA KEA)(Chasiempis sandwichensis bryani)– One twitched through some scrubby trees near the overlook at Pu'u La'au, not far from where we found our Japanese Quail. This is the palest-headed of the Hawaii Elepaios, limited to the high dry slopes of Mauna Kea itself. Like all elepaios, this one often held its long tail cocked up jauntily over its back.[E]
The beach near our Kauai hotel provided the quintessential Hawaii view. Photo by participant Martha Vandervoort.
HAWAII ELEPAIO (HILO COAST)(Chasiempis sandwichensis ridgwayi)– This darker subspecies was seen nicely in the wet forests of Hakalau, and in Pu'u O'o, where we found a busily foraging bird while searching for the Akiapolaau.[E]
KAUAI ELEPAIO(Chasiempis sclateri)– After struggling a bit to get much of a look at our first, which was foraging along one of the boardwalk trails at Alakai Swamp, we had superb views of two others on (and around) a nest along the Pihea trail.[EN]
OAHU ELEPAIO(Chasiempis ibidis)– Two along the trail at Kuliouou were rather less than cooperative -- disappearing into thick growth before everyone had the chance to get a look. Unfortunately, though we continued to hear them calling from the tangles for a while, they never did work back out to the path.[E]
SKY LARK(Alauda arvensis)– Abundant in the grasslands of the Big Island, where we saw many trundling along roadsides and enjoyed the lovely wild songs of others as they displayed high overhead.[I]
The Kauai Amakihi spends a lot of time creeping through smaller branches, often hanging upside down to inspect underneath them. Photo by guide Dan Lane.
RED-VENTED BULBUL(Pycnonotus cafer)– Very common on Oahu, including many in the park across the street from our Waikiki hotel.[I]
RED-WHISKERED BULBUL(Pycnonotus jocosus)– A couple in the banyan trees across the road from our Waikiki hotel (in nice comparison with the previous species) with others bouncing through the shrubs around the Kahuku golf course.[I]
Cettiidae (Bush-Warblers and Allies)
JAPANESE BUSH-WARBLER(Horornis diphone)– One in a bamboo patch at Hanalei played hard to get, flicking back and forth from one side of the road to the other -- though it did eventually sit still in the open for 20 seconds or so. Those who sat out the pelagic trip had fine views of another bird singing from the top of some scrubby bushes along the road near Kawaiele Ponds, and we heard the explosive songs of still others elsewhere.[I]
Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)
JAPANESE WHITE-EYE(Zosterops japonicus)– Common and widespread, seen well on most days of the tour -- including a pair working through the trees around the Hanalei overlook one afternoon.[I]
Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)
CHINESE HWAMEI(Garrulax canorus)– These were far more readily heard than seen. We were serenaded by many -- lovely, complicated trills and whistles that echoed from the hillsides along the trail out to the Alakai Swamp and near Kawaiele Ponds -- but only a few lucky folks caught a quick glimpse of one of the singers.[I]
RED-BILLED LEIOTHRIX(Leiothrix lutea)– Our best views of this beautiful little bird, which is native to southeast Asia, came at Kuliouou, where several bounced through tangled vegetation beside the trail. Many saw others in the scrubby tree islands at Pu'u La'au, and we heard the vaguely tanager-like songs of still more at Hakalau.[I]
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA(Copsychus malabaricus)– Regular on both Oahu and Kauai. Especially nice sightings included a roadside bird singing in the Saint Louis heights park and several confiding pairs along the Alakai Swamp trail system.[I]
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
OMAO(Myadestes obscurus)– It took some persistence, but a misty morning's walk on a side trail at Volcano NP eventually brought us great views of one singing (and preening) in a treetop. Fortunately for those investigating the lava tube, we found other cooperative birds in the lush forest of Hakalau, and along the Pu'u O'o trail.[E]
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD(Mimus polyglottos)– Dan and Martha spotted on along the road on Kauai, and those who missed the boat trip spotted another sitting atop a small bush across the road from Kawaiele Ponds.[I]
COMMON MYNA(Acridotheres tristis)– Abundant, particularly in urban and suburban areas, throughout the tour. This species is native to India.[I]
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
RED-CRESTED CARDINAL(Paroaria coronata)– Common on Oahu and Kauai, with especially nice looks at several pairs in the park across the street from our Waikiki hotel. This is a South American species.[IN]
Bristle-thighed Curlews are probably easier to find on Oahu than anywhere else in the US. They stand on fence posts, forage on golf courses, and display those eponymous bristles for all and sundry to see. And there's not a Grizzly Bear within a thousand miles! Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
YELLOW-BILLED CARDINAL(Paroaria capitata)– After a bit of searching, we finally found one mooching along the side of the road in Waikoloa, picking bits out of the grass and ferrying them up to a fledged youngster. Once we found the first one, of course, we spotted numerous others, including (for some) an adult with a couple of begging youngsters in tow right on the lawn of our hotel. This is another South American import.[IN]
SAFFRON FINCH(Sicalis flaveola)– Our first was a rather wary female that spent most of her time buried in a small patch of slightly taller grass under a baseball backstop in the park across from our Waikiki hotel; fortunately, she flew up to sit on the backstop's wires once or twice. We had much better looks at both males and females on the Big Island, including many confiding birds on the lawns around our beach hotel at Waikoloa.[I]
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
NORTHERN CARDINAL(Cardinalis cardinalis)– Common and widespread, particularly on Oahu and Kauai, including a male singing from a treetop near our Bristle-thighed Curlews and a female along the track out to the Kilauea Point Light.[I]
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
WESTERN MEADOWLARK(Sturnella neglecta)– Heard far more easily than seen, but -- with some effort -- most got at least a glimpse of one in the scruffy field across the street from our Kauai hotel, and many saw others in the short grass along the runways of several airports.[I]
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
PALILA(Loxioides bailleui)– A female in a leafless tree near our breakfast spot at Pu'u La'au certainly interrupted things; after breakfast, we found a male (joined later by his mate) in one of the islands of scrub towards the overlook.[E]
HAWAII AMAKIHI(Hemignathus virens)– Quite common in the highlands of the Big Island, with dozens flicking through the dripping trees in Hakalau, and others at Pu'u La'au and Pu'u O'o. We were certainly all familiar with the sweet trill of this species by tour's end![E]
We had almost as much fun SAYING Anianiau as SEEING one! Hawaiian names can definitely be a bit of a challenge to learn. Photo by guide Dan Lane.
OAHU AMAKIHI(Hemignathus flavus)– Seen well along the road at the Saint Louis heights park we visited, including one that checked us out from mere yards away. This species was pretty common among the conifers there.[E]
KAUAI AMAKIHI(Hemignathus kauaiensis)– A handful along the boardwalk trails at Alakai Swamp, including one that visited the blooming ohia tree near the overlook we visited. This species was split much earlier than the other two Amakihis.[E]
AKIAPOLAAU(Hemignathus munroi)– It took until our last afternoon, but we eventually tracked down a little family group -- a female and a youngster -- along the Pu'u O'o trail. With some effort, we eventually had a great look at their strange beaks: a small, straight lower mandible and a long, sickle-shaped upper mandible.[E]
ANIANIAU(Magumma parva)– Single birds foraged along the Alakai Swamp boardwalk and the Pihea trail, working though trees at eye height. This is the plainest of the endemics, with a small, nearly straight beak. It's found only on Kauai.[E]
HAWAII CREEPER(Loxops mana)– One along the track at Hakalau gave us a great display of its "creeping", crawling up a big trunk right beside us. The smudgy dark lores of this endemic species are distinctive.[E]
AKEPA (HAWAII)(Loxops coccineus coccineus)– Spectacular views of a pair in a tree over the trail at Hakalau. The male, in particular, scurried around on the branch ends searching for tasty morsels. What an amazing color![E]
IIWI(Vestiaria coccinea)– Our first views were a bit underwhelming -- quick flashes of scarlet winging past over the trees at Alakai Swamp. Fortunately, we hit the mother lode when we got to the Big Island, with dozens of birds seen in the misty cloud forest of Hakalau and the drier tree islands along the Pu'u O'o trail.[E]
APAPANE(Himatione sanguinea)– Easily the most widespread of the endemic honeyeaters, seen regularly in the highlands of Kauai and Hawaii. Those around our lunch spot in Volcano showed particularly well, as did many in Hakalau and one visiting a blooming ohia tree near the Alakai Swamp boardwalk.[E]
HOUSE FINCH(Haemorhous mexicanus)– Abundant on all three islands, including several perched pairs near the Palilas at Pu'u La'au, and others sitting in the trees around our breakfast spot in Mauna Kea Park.[I]
YELLOW-FRONTED CANARY(Serinus mozambicus)– Very common in the park across from our Waikiki hotel, with scores seen perched in one of the spreading trees shortly before we headed back for breakfast. This is another African native.[I]
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW(Passer domesticus)– Daily in good numbers, particularly around cities and towns.[I]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
BLACK-RUMPED WAXBILL(Estrilda troglodytes)– A gang of these small estrildid finches, which are native to southern Africa, swarmed through tall grasses near the "sail sculpture"/lookout corner on the Big Island. With patience, we all eventually got scope views of them as they hitched their way up and down grass stems, daintily nibbling at seeds.[I]
An Akepa dancing among the tree branches was a highlight of our visit to Hakalau NWR. Video by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
COMMON WAXBILL(Estrilda astrild)– Ridiculously abundant in the park across the street from our Waikiki hotel, where we found multiple flocks of 50 or more bouncing across the mowed fields. This is another native to sub-Saharan Africa.[I]
AFRICAN SILVERBILL(Euodice cantans)– Our first were a small group feeding on a dry, sandy roadside just up the hill from Waikoloa; they flicked into and out of view as they foraged in the dead grasses. We had better views of a pair that landed right beside the vans as we got ready to leave the "sail sculpture"/lookout parking lot on Hawaii. As its name suggests, this is yet another African native.[I]
SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA(Lonchura punctulata)– Seen on all three islands, with especially nice studies of a small group near one of the baseball backstops in the park across the street from our Waikiki hotel and of another perched up in a leafless tree (the same one our first Palila perched in) near our breakfast spot at Pu'u La'au.[I]
CHESTNUT MUNIA(Lonchura atricapilla)– Scores of these richly colored munias munched on grass seeds along one of the highways on Oahu, seen as we drove up and back to Kilauea, and we saw others daily on Kauai -- including a little group foraging at a corner while we waited for traffic to clear en route to our boat trip.[I]
JAVA SPARROW(Lonchura oryzivora)– We found a big group -- with lots of plain-faced youngsters in tow -- in the park across from our Waikiki hotel. The huge pink bill (and white cheek patch) of this introduced species is certainly distinctive![I]
SPINNER DOLPHIN(Stenella longirostris)– Most of the group spotted a small group of these graceful dolphins leaping along in the wake of a passing boat, seen from our perch (high above the water) at the Waimea Canyon overlook.
The gang enjoys a gorgeous afternoon along the Pu'u O'o trail -- where we spotted a couple of Akiapolaau. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
HUMPBACK WHALE(Megaptera novaeangliae)– One surfaced near the boat on our pelagic trip out of Kauai, and some spotted another offshore as we landed in Maui.
SMALL INDIAN MONGOOSE(Herpestes auropunctatus)– Some folks saw one scamper across the road in front of the vehicles as we drove toward Waimea Canyon, and those in one van saw another briefly poised beside a road in Waikoloa before it disappeared into the vegetation. Unfortunately, these fierce little predators, introduced in a misguided attempt to control rats, wreck havoc on ground-nesting birds.[I]
WILD BOAR(Sus scrofa)– Some of the group saw one steal out from the side of the road towards Dave's van -- looking a bit like a short-legged black dog -- as dusk fell on our drive back from the boat trip. We spotted another racing away into the grasslands on the drive up to Hakalau. Introduced as a hunting target, this species has been disastrous for many species of endemic Hawaiian plants.[I]
DOMESTIC CATTLE(Bos taurus)– While we don't generally "tick" domestic animals on our tours, we make an exception on Hawaii, where feral animals (like the cattle that have been running wild in Pu'u La'au for decades) have a definite impact on the environment.
DOMESTIC GOAT(Capra hircus)– This is another feral species that has had an enormous impact on Hawaiian ecosystems. We saw several small herds on the Big Island: a few along the Saddle road and one near the town of Waikoloa.[I]
DOMESTIC SHEEP(Ovis aries)– Along with the previous species, this is probably the feral animal causing the most damage to dry country ecosystems on the Big Island. We saw a flock of many hundred systematically munching the grasslands along the Saddle road, and Gary and Taj commented on the negative impact they've had on the area where the Palila clings to existence.[I]
METALLIC SKINK(Lampropholis delicata)– Seen along the Alakai Swamp trail on Kauai and in the broken lava near the start of the Pu'u O'o trail. This species is native to Australia.
We got "up close and personal" with introduced species from all over the world, including these Common Waxbills on Oahu. Video by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
BROWN ANOLE(Anolis sagrei)– A few of these small brown lizards clung to walls along Saint Louis Road in the heights overlooking Waikiki.[I]
GREEN ANOLE (CAROLINA ANOLE)(Anolis carolinensis)– We watched a couple scamper through the vegetation at the Hanalei taro field overlook; when they weren't moving, they were hard to find among the leaves.
COMMON HOUSE GECKO(Hemidactylus frenatus)– A few hung out in darker corners at our lunch spot in Koke'e SP.
CANE TOAD(Bufo marinus)– Some in Dan's van during our drive to/from Kauai's Waimea Canyon spotted one along the road.
COMMON COQUI(Eleutherodactylus coqui)– We heard many of these small frogs (which have a surprisingly big voice) calling from the forest around Kilauea Lodge.
AMERICAN BULLFROG(Rana catesbeiana)– Some of the group spotted a big one in one of the taro fields at Hanalei.
GREEN SEA TURTLE(Chelonia mydas)– We spotted the head of one poking up from the wind-driven seas off the Japanese cemetery on Oahu.
Totals for the tour: 82 bird taxa and 7 mammal taxa