James T. Morrison R(S)
Big Island's Native Birds: An Avian Adventure
The Big Island of Hawaii is home to a diverse array of native birds, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. From the iconic nene (Hawaiian goose) to the elusive 'akepa, the Big Island's native birds offer a unique avian adventure for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.
One of the most iconic and easily recognizable native birds on the Big Island is the nene. This endangered goose is the state bird of Hawaii and can be found on the slopes of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and other high-elevation areas. The nene is a ground-nesting bird that feeds on native plants such as grasses and ferns. They are known for their distinctive honking call and are a must-see for any birdwatcher visiting the Big Island.
Another unique native bird that can be found on the Big Island is the 'akepa. This small, brightly colored honeycreeper is found only in Hawaii and is considered an endangered species. The 'akepa can be found in the forests of the island, where it feeds on nectar and insects. They are known for their bright red plumage and their distinctive call, which is a high-pitched, nasal "whee-whee-whee."
The Big Island is also home to a variety of seabirds, including the Laysan albatross. These large birds can be found nesting on the island's black sand beaches, and can also be seen flying overhead in search of food. The Laysan albatross feeds on squid, fish, and other marine organisms, and is known for its impressive wing span of up to 7 feet.
Another seabird that can be found on the Big Island is the red-tailed tropicbird. These striking birds are known for their long, streamer-like tail feathers and can be found nesting on the cliffs along the coast. The red-tailed tropicbird feeds on small fish and squid and can be seen flying over the ocean in search of food.
The Big Island is also home to a variety of endangered native forest birds, including the 'elepaio and the 'i'iwi. The 'elepaio is a small, dark-colored bird that can be found in the forests of the island. They are known for their distinctive call, which sounds like a chattering or whistling. The 'i'iwi is a brightly colored bird that can be found in the same forest habitats as the 'elepaio. They are known for their bright red plumage and curved bill, which they use to feed on nectar from native plants.
In addition to the native birds, the Big Island is also home to a variety of introduced bird species, including the Japanese white-eye and the red-billed leiothrix. These introduced birds can be found in urban and suburban areas, and are known for their brightly colored plumage and melodic songs.
The Big Island's native birds offer a unique avian adventure for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. From the iconic nene to the elusive 'akepa, these birds are a testament to the diversity and resilience of nature. The Big Island's native birds are an important part of the island's natural heritage and should be protected for future generations to enjoy.
The best way to explore the Big Island's native birds is to join a guided birdwatching tour or to visit one of the island's birdwatching hotspots. Some of the best places to see native birds on the Big Island include the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and the Pololu Valley.