Hawaiian Birds: Nene

10 10 2015
Photo by Alejandro Bárcenas

Photo by Alejandro Bárcenas

The Nene is the state bird of Hawaii and is also known as the Hawaiian Goose. They are 22-26″ a medium sized goose with a buffy neck with dark furrows. Heavily barred gray-brown above, lighter below (see photo).

Its strong toes are padded and have reduced webbing, an adaptation that allows it to swiftly traverse rough terrain such as lava. Black billed it breeds from November to June. Females incubate the 2-5 eggs for 29 to 32 days.

An herbivore they feed on plants native and introduced.

Nesochen sandivicensis

Nesochen sandivicensis


Birds of Hawaii: Ae’o

10 09 2015
Himantopus mexicanus knudseni

Himantopus mexicanus knudseni

Also knows as the Hawaiian Stilt, the Ae’o is a tall slender wading bird with pink legs and a long thin black bill. It is 16″ and its voice is a loud, sharp “keek” call given in flight and when disturbed on the ground. Also gives a soft more muted call while resting. They exhibit a strong flapping flight with its legs trailing behind. Often found in mudflats, marshy areas, and ponds. They feed on fish, crabs, aquatic insects, and worms.

Birds of Hawaii: Noio

10 07 2015


This bird is frequently observed on the ocean cliffs of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It is a seabird in the tern family. It is 14″ with a wingspan of 28″.

Its voice is similar to that of the Brown Noddy but higher pitched and less piercing. The Noio build substantial nests from the wood of the naupaka or ironwood trees and rarely feeds far from its nesting island.


Extinct Hawaiian Birds: Laysan Rail

5 03 2012

The Laysan Rail or Laysan Crake (Porzana palmeri)

Hawaiian Birds: ‘Auku’u

10 05 2011

‘Auku’u or Black-Crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nyctocorax hoacth 24-26 inches with a 43-45 inch wingspan, black cap and bill, pale gray below, legs and feet yellow. Immature birds are brown with white on their underside.

Feeds in ponds, streams, marshes, lagoon, and tide pools. They feeds on a variety of freshwater and marine animals, including fish, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, rodents, birds, and eggs. Their flight is slow with their necks tucked in and their legs trailing behind.

Hawaiian Birds: Po’ouli

10 04 2011

Po’ouli, Melamprosops phaeosoma This bird is found primarily in the upper forest of Haleakala. It is an endangered species. About five inches, dark gray with brown above, it has a black mask extends across the forehead and around the eyes, its underparts are buff washed with brown. Short tail and the feet and legs are dark brown. They feed on small snails insects.

Hawaiian Birds: Red-Billed Leiothrix

10 03 2011

Red-Billed Leiothrix

Red-Billed Leiothrix, Leiothrix Iuten are found in the wet forests at higher altitudes and in the dry forest regions of the Saddle Region of the Big Island. Flocks of Leiothrix’s have been known to fly up to elevations of 13,500 feet for a short period of time. They favor areas with at least 40 inches of rain.

They have become more rare in the lower altitudes and have a beautiful melodious sound and a hard scolding chatter and low call note. They are about five inches with yellow throat, yellow to orange breast, olive green on the upper, under the tail are yellowish green. The bill is orange-red with legs and feet are greenish red.

They are hard to find. They eat fruit seeds, strawberry guava, thimble berry, and sometimes overripe papaya. Their diet also includes: larval and adult butterflies, moths, millipedes, and spiders. and flowers. They nest close to the ground in bushes and small trees.

Hawaiian Birds: ‘Alae ‘Ula

12 02 2011

‘Alae ‘Ula

‘Alae ‘Ula or Hawaiian Gallinule, Gallunula chorloropus sandvicensis is mostly found of Kauai and Oahu but congressionally on the Big Island. They are less common than other water birds or their shy behavior makes it hard to estimate their population. They are slate gray with darker heads and a red frontal shield with a yellow tip. Thirteen inches with legs and feet that are yellowish-green. The chicks are black with the bright red bills. They are found in fresh water ponds, marshes, and taro patches and feeds on mollusks, water plants, and grasses. They have large unwebbed feet and often build their nests on folded reeds.

Ancient Hawaiians believe this species brought fire from the gods to the Hawaiian people.

Hawaiian Birds: Kolea

23 01 2011

Kolea also known as Plauvialis dominica is about eleven inches and has gold spotting and is brown with darker brown below. It is sometimes mistaken for the more rare Black-bellied Plover that lacks the golden color on its back. It is very hard to tell the males from the female Kolea.

They are found primarily in mudflats, fields and grassy slopes. They scurrry along in search of snails, insects, and crustaceans.

Hawaiian State Bird: Nene Goose

20 08 2010


Hawaiian Goose or Nene Goose,  Banto sandcivensis

These birds are found primarily on the islands of Hawaii and Maui. They have a call that is similar to that of a Canada Goose and sometimes can be mistaken as that of the voice of a cow “moo.”

They begin nesting in November laying 2-5 eggs on average in down nests that are concealed for safety. They often roost on the slopes of Mauna Kea. They snack primarily on native plants.

Hawaiian Sayings

2 10 2009
Royal Hawaiian Feather Cape

Royal Hawaiian Feather Cape

Ho`ola`i na manu i ke aheahe.

The birds poise quietly in the gentle breezes.

Birds of Hawaii: Koa’e Kea

8 06 2009
Koae kea photo by Mila Zinkova

Koa'e kea photo by Mila Zinkova

The Koa’e Kea also called the White-tailed Tropicbird is often seen soaring at Hawaii’s Volcanic National Park. It nests on mountainous islands in the tropical Pacific and is 23-32″ with tail feathers and a wingspac on 35-38″. It has a graceful flapping flight with frequent gliding and feeds by plunging into the water for fish. Their call is a rasping scream that is harsh and distinctive.

Phaethon lepturus dorotheae

Phaethon lepturus dorotheae

Breeding extends from March until October. They breed on tropical islands laying a single egg directly onto the ground, crevice, or a cliff ledge.

Its feathers were highly prized in Hawaiian featherwork.