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  • Lyndell Daniel

Kauai, Hawaii - birds, chickens and more

Kauai is home to some incredible sea life including Blue whales, Killer whales, Sperm whales, Pilot whales, Bottlenose dolphins and Striped dolphins. Unfortunately on this trip to Kauai, we did not have time to see these incredible fish. Instead we experienced the wonderful bird life on the Island including native songbirds, tropical birds, and the island’s infamous hordes of wild chickens.

The red-tailed tropicbird is a commonly seen (and heard!) seabird at Kilauea Point during its breeding season, which occurs from February to September. It is well known for its dramatic courtship flight rituals where several birds gather in a small group and begin flying in a backwards circle, vocalising with loud, raucous squawking. The red beak and tail contrasting against the white plumage and framed against the blue sky make this bird a favourite for photographers at the Point.

The Wedge-Tailed Shearwater - ‘UA‘U KANI

The ghost-like moaning, wailing, and baby-like cries rising up from the ground are the sounds to listen for when the `ua`u kani are at Kilauea Point for their breeding season from March to November. These ground nesting, or perhaps more accurately, underground nesting seabirds dig into the hill sides creating burrow nests for the single white egg which they lay during the month of June. Some less ambitious of this species lay their eggs right under vegetation or even in a flower box in front of the Visitor Contact Station out near the lighthouse.

The red-footed booby is known as ‘ā in Hawaiian. Unlike albatross and shearwater chicks which hatch out with downy feathers, red-footed booby chicks arrive naked and quite helpless, so for the first month of life one or the other parent will be with them at the nest. After a month they are downy white and are able to regulate their own body temperature well enough to be left alone while both parents hunt for food.

The Red-Footed Booby bird is frequently seen on the Na‘Pali Coast. While its bright red legs are tucked when flying, the best way to recognise the bird, is by the long blue beak.

The Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis) also sometimes referred to as the American chameleon due to its ability to change color from several brown hues to bright green. While many kinds of lizards are capable of changing color, anoles are closely related to iguanas.

Lizards are not native to Hawaii and apparently the green Anole numbers are in decline in Kauai.

The feral chickens were likely once bred and raised for food, but today they roam the entire island freely, giving tourists a show with their vibrant plumage and distinctive crowing. The Kauai chickens provide a new perspective — domestication in reverse. Local lore is that many of the Kauai chickens are descendants of birds that escaped when Hurricane Iwa in 1982 and then Hurricane Iniki in 1992 blew open coops.

The red-crested cardinal (Paroaria coronata) is a songbird with a prominent red head and crest. It was introduced to Oahu around 1930. It is unmistakable with its bright red crest and throat that contrasts with its gray back and white underparts.

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