From Birding

Lifebirds #324-344 – More Birds of Paradise


I’ve just returned after spending one week on the big island of Hawaii. This was not a “birding trip,” but rather a family vacation, ostensibly to celebrate my 50th birthday. Eight of us made the trip; only three of us are birders. So Dad, Joann, and I promised the group that we would spend only one day birding, and we almost kept that promise.

There are three broad categorizations for the birds of Hawaii.

The first thing to know about birding Hawaii is that most of the birds likely to be seen shouldn’t be there at all. That is to say that they wouldn’t be there without human help. These are the introduced species, sometimes called “invasive” or “non-native.” Some of these are familiar to those of us from North America. Among others, we saw Northern Cardinals, Cattle Egrets, Mallards, and House Sparrows (of course, the House Sparrow is an Eurasian species that was introduced to North America). Others of the introduced species we saw are native to East Asia, South Pacific Islands, and other parts of the world. Japanese White-eye, Red-billed Leiothrix, Yellow-billed Cardinals, Saffron Finches, Zebra Doves, and Common Mynas are examples of these that we were able to find. Believe me, a few of these needed no “finding” at all.

There are birds on the island of Hawaii that are widespread throughout the Pacific, and even the world, that are considered to be native to the island. These birds found their own way to the island. Some, like the Wandering Tattler are migrants that spend a part of their year in the area. Others, like the Black-crowned Night-Heron, are widespread species whose ancestors found the place, liked it, and now stay year-round.

The third category, and the most sought after by bird-nerd visitors to the island, are the endemic species. These birds are native to the islands of Hawaii, and are found nowhere else in the world. These are the hardest to find, and in fact, many Hawaiian endemics cannot be found. They are extinct. From 27% to 49% of Hawaiian endemics have gone extinct since Captain Cook “discovered” the islands in 1778 [An Annotated List of Hawaii's Extinct Birds]. Habitat destruction, predation by introduced mammals, and competition with introduced birds are among the causes of these losses.


You can guess, of course, into which of these categories most of the birds we found fell. By my count, we found 21 introduced, 6 native, and 6 endemic species. (I’m relying on the Hawaiian Audubon society for categorizations.) Still, we had great time. All three of us added 21 birds to our life lists. The highlight of our birding occurred on a trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where we saw hundreds of Apapanes (high and unphotographable in ohia trees), the beautiful—but non-native—Red-billed Leiothrix, the Hawaii Eleipaio, and the Omao.

I was able to photograph only the easiest-to-find birds and none of the endemics. Eight of my twenty-one lifers are represented by photos on this page: Red-billed Leiothrix, Saffron Finch (top of page), Kalij Pheasant, Common Myna (above), Pacific Golden-Plover, Yellow-fronted Canary (below), Yellow-billed Cardinal and Common Myna (end of page). Click on any photo to see larger versions of these and seven additional photos.


Species  Common Myna / Acridotheres tristis
Species  Saffron Finch / Sicalis flaveola
Where North Kona District, Hawaii
When Jul 18 2010
Who Joann, Dad
Numbers 324-325
Species  Yellow-billed Cardinal / Paroaria capitata
Species  Spotted Dove / Spilopelia chinensis
Species  Pacific Golden-plover / Pluvialis fulva
Where North Kona District, Hawaii
When Jul 19 2010
Who Joann, Dad
Numbers 326-328
Species  Hawaiian Coot / Fulica alai
Species  Kalij Pheasant / Lophura leucomelanos
Species  Hawaii Amakihi / Hemignathus virens
Species  Apapane / Himatione sanguinea
Species  Japanese White-eye / Zosterops japonicus
Where North Kona District, Hawaii
When Jul 21 2010
Who Joann, Dad
Numbers 329-333
Species  Erckel’s Francolin / Pternistis erckelii
Species  Hawaiian Hawk / Buteo solitarius
Where Saddleback Road, Hawaii
When Jul 21 2010
Who Joann, Dad
Numbers 334-335
Species  White-faced Ibis / Plegadis chihi
Where South Hilo District, Hawaii
When Jul 21 2010
Who Joann, Dad
Number 336
Species  Red-billed Leiothrix / Leiothrix lutea
Species  Hwamei / Garrulax canorus
Species  Hawaii Elepaio / Chasiempis sandwichensis
Species  Omao / Myadestes obscurus
Where Volcanos Natl Park, Hawaii
When Jul 21 2010
Who Joann, Dad
Numbers 337-340
Species  Yellow-fronted Canary / Crithagra mozambica
Species  Nutmeg Mannikin / Lonchura punctulata
Species  Gray Francolin / Francolinus pondicerianus
Where North Kona District, Hawaii
When Jul 23 2010
Who Joann, Dad
Numbers 341-343
Species  Brown Booby / Sula leucogaster
Where North Hilo District, Hawaii
When Jul 24 2010
Who Joann
Number 344