[Tweeters] Synopsis of Big Island Birding

Janine Anderson janine at anderson-design.net
Mon Oct 17 11:02:13 PDT 2016


I want to thank everyone who responded to my query about Big Island birding. The information was extremely helpful, so I tried to assemble it in a coherent fashion for the potential benefit of others. I also want to mention that I tried sending this message last week, but it appears it didn’t go through. I apologize if I am wrong about that and you already received this recap.

To get all the forest endemics you need to visit Hakalau Forest NWR and also take the wet/dry forest trips, which can be done through Hawaii Forest and Trails. None of these areas can be visited without a licensed guide. Guides licensed for Hakalau are listed on this website: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Hakalau_Forest/visit/plan_your_visit.html

Hawaii Forest and Trails

· Gary is a wonderful guide

* Trip to cloud mist forest on Mauna Loa and sub-alpine dry forest on Mauna Kea affords access to the last wild habitat of the rare & endangered Palila

· Maximum group size: 12

Jack Jeffrey leads tours to the Hakalau Forest, a national wildlife refuge

· Extremely knowledgeable birder and fascinating person, though his trips are less convenient than those through Hawaii Forest and Trails

· He is a former biologist in the forest and incredibly knowledgeable about many things in addition to the birds. Recommend without qualification

· Maximum group size: 5

· Note.—I contacted Jack and he is unavailable during my stay, having back to back trips to Costa Rica and Uganda!

Lance Tanino

· A younger private guide who is great at getting a lot of species in a day. Sea watching and introduced birds are usually overlooked by other guides. He also organizes pelagic trips from time to time and can be encouraged to do them when demand calls for it. <mailto:lance.tanino at gmail.com> lance.tanino at gmail.com

More useful tips (sans guide):

The best bet for forest birds is around the volcano--hiking some of the forest trails or driving and stopping at some of the park sites and birding the edges of the forest. Most of the habitat below the forest and around the lower slopes and coastal strand is disappointing with a huge array of non-native birds. The coast itself can be good for some of the Hawaiian native marine birds. One of the best bets is driving the Chain of Craters Road in the park all the way to the end. There are great overlooks of the sea and you may see Black Noddys nesting in the rocky cliff. Tropicbirds also nest/roost in the Kilauea crater--ask the rangers about this. One thing to do for interest, not birds, is to visit the Kilauea crater after dark. The fire from the crater is primeval.

Look around rocky shorelines for ruddy turnstones, wandering tattlers, and Pacific Golden Plovers where there are lawns. There are some fish ponds and marshes south and north of the Kona-Kailua airport where you might see least terns, black necked stilts, and other native water birds. Along with the City of Refuge National Historic Site, the Honokokau National Historic Site just south of the K-K airport is very interesting and has great fish ponds for stilts and plovers. After visiting the visitors’ site, drive to harbor/marina and access the beach and ponds from the boat ramp parking lot on the north side of the marina. Lots of turtles here too. Afterward, drive to the point on the south end of the harbor entrance and check the navigation buoy for a brown booby and maybe some spinner dolphins lounging about the harbor entrance.

"Hawaii's Birds," put out by the Hawaiian Audubon Society, is probably the most useful reference book.

Janine Anderson, CPH

Anderson LeLievre Landscape Design

206 618 6054


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