Hawaiian Birds: `Io

17 03 2016

Hawaiian Birds

Because the islands are more than 2000 miles from North America or Asia there are some amazing birds in Hawaii. It has been said that the absence of predators and minimal competition allowed them to evolve in peace. It has been estimated that there were at one time are least seventy kinds of birds that were unique to Hawaii. Of these some forty percent are already lost to extinction and some thirty percent more that are considered endangered.

Hawaiian Birds: `Io

`Io (Buteo soliarius) is sometimes referred to as the Hawaiian Hawk.

In the Kona region of the Big Island of Hawai‘i, the bulk of Mauna Loa blocks the prevailing trade winds leaving the air quite calm. The daily cycle of gentle convectional breezes moves up and down the gentle slopes, bringing the warm, humid climate. The Hawaiian saying “kaha ka ‘io i ka malie” translates as “the hawk stands out in the calm skies,” and is used to express admiration for a person who stands out in a crowd because of his or her appearance or charisma.

This graceful bird of prey measures 16 to 18 inches in length, the female being larger. Two color phases exist: a dark phase (dark brown head, breast, and underwings), and a light color phase (dark head, light breast and light underwings). Feet and legs are yellowish in adults and greenish in juveniles.

February through August is their breeding season, with pairs having their own schedule that may be dependent on locality. Nests are constructed of twigs and lined with leafy material. Eggs are similar in size and shaped to a chicken egg, light blue in color and either speckled or streaked with brown or reddish brown. The clutch size is normally one egg, and should the egg be lost within a few days of laying, a second clutch is laid within three weeks. Pair bonding appears to be permanent, and a pair uses the same nesting site in succeeding years.

also called the Hawaiian Hawk

The `Io usually hunts from a stationary position, but can also dive on prey from the air. It feeds on rodents, insects, small birds, and some game birds. They are opportunistic predators and are versatile in their feeding habits. They have a shrill and high-pitched call much like their Hawaiian name: “eeeh-oh.” They are known to be very noisy during the breading season. `Io are strong fliers.

In the forests of Kapu‘a in South Kona, ‘io still build their nests in strong ‘öhi‘a trees, calling out their persistence for all to hear. They have a shrill high-pitched call like their Hawaiian name: “eeeh-oh.” They are noisy during the breeding season. ‘Io are very strong fliers.


Hawaiian Birds: Palermi

20 02 2016

The Puaiohi or the Small Kauai Thrush is a rare thrush that is endemic to Kauai. Puaiohi are small, drab birds that have long, slender blackish yellow bills. They have pink feet, legs and some white thigh feathers. The adult birds are highly similar and are olive-brown on top, while the belly is light grey. A white eye ring around the eye is a major trade mark of the species, which distinguishes it from its larger cousin, the Kamao. The chicks are brown, with a pattern interchanging white from brown. The bills of the young are more yellow and the belly is more brown then grey. The Puaiohi is some what tubby, however is not as tubby as it larger relative that lives on Hawaii, the Omao. It songs sound like water gurgling.

Extinct Hawaiian Birds: Laysan Rail

5 03 2012

The Laysan Rail or Laysan Crake (Porzana palmeri)

Birds of old Hawaii: Laysan Duck

24 02 2009

The Laysan Duck (Anas laysanensis), also known as the Laysan Teal

Anas laysanensis

The Laysan Duck resided in the Hawaiian archipelago but in the past two hundred years has found its range greatly diminished. At the current time the Laysan Duck can only be found on the 900-acre Laysan Island that is under the protection of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Grouped among the Dabbling ducks such as the Mallard, the Laysan Duck prefers land habitats to aquatic and aerial habitats. Studies of DNA in duck bones throughout the Hawaiian Islands have shown that the Laysan Duck’s range once included the entire Hawaiian Archipelago before the mass extinctions that occurred in that region after Polynesian colonization between 400 and 600 AD.

Average weights for this long-lived duck vary with its age. An individual at age 14 can weigh 98.1 grams while an individual at age 45 can weigh 402.0 grams.

There is little difference between the plumages of males and females. Both are dull, dark brown with distinctive white eye rings and white feathering on head and neck. The main difference lies with bill coloring: the male bill is yellowish green with black spotting, while the female bill is dull orange. The Laysan Duck has strong wings that allow it quick take offs but not prolonged flight. The Laysan Duck spends most of its time on its legs dabbling into the water and on land for food.

Birds of Hawaii: Chukar

2 01 2009

The Chukar is a rotund 32-35 cm long bird, with a light brown back, gray breast, and buff belly. The face is white with a black gorget. It has streaked flanks and red legs. When disturbed, it prefers to run rather than fly, but if necessary it flies a short distance on rounded wings.