Birding in Honolulu and Vancouver

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Birding in Honolulu and Vancouver
From: David Adams <>
Date: Sat, 8 Feb 2014 18:50:49 +1100
I used to live on Kiuke'e place in Kailua (windward side of O'ahu) across
the street from a tiny wetland now named the Ka'elepulu Wetland:

Surprisingly, this was always one of the easiest places in the islands to
get good looks at several native waterbirds, including Stilt, Moorhen and
Coot. During the winter, it was good for vagrant ducks from the mainland
but not so much in northern summer. I used to notice a van would show up
from this outfit somewhat regularly:

I can't vouch for them but they've certainly been around for ages. There
logo is the incomprable I'iwi...but there are no I'iwi on O'ahu - at least
none that you can see. (The last I heard of them was a small family group
spotted in a Christmas bird count on restricted military land several years
back.) It's a nice spot and a lovely drive from Honolulu so if you're
willing to drive, it's an easy one.

There are a couple of where to see birds in Hawaii books around, including
a more-or-less recent edition by Doug Pratt, if you like that sort of
thing. (I do.)

If you're after anything in particular, it's easier to provide suggestions.
O'ahu doesn't have much bird variety but there are some lovely birds to be
seen. You're going to be there at a decent time for sea birds, so I'd say
go for that. They regularly get a good range of terns, noddies, boobies
(Brown, Red-footed and far less commonly Masked), Frigatebirds, the two
common Tropicbirds (Red-tailed and White-taield) for that part of the
Pacific (and exceptionally Red-billed for a couple of years running.) I'm
not sure if that's the right time of year for the Laysan Albatross at
Ka'ena Point State Park. If it is, the long drive is well worth it.
Otherwise, it's a long drive.

Kapiolani Park is very nice for a walk and good place for Canary, Java
Sparrow (about my favorite bird on the island - and quite abundant in
grassy environments like the university), and Fairy Terns (Gygis alba - not
the same as the Fairy Tern here.)

For native forest birds, the usual recommendation is Aiea Ridge Loop Trail,
which can be quite good. Imagine it before the huge highway (H3) was put
in, thus driving the O'ahu Creeper off the planet. Anyway, you have a
chance at Guam Swiftlets (one known cave whose exact location is kept
secret), 'Apapane, 'Amakihi, and Elapaio. By the way, the ' symbol is a
real sound in Hawaii ("Hawai'i) but often isn't used. You'll see it written
or not on official and unofficial materials. It's pretty much the stop
sound in "uh-oh" or "D'oh!" in English. The Elapaio looks and acts just
like a Fantail and are a real treat. They're never in huge numbers but you
can sometimes find yourself very close to one or two. The Apapane is a
great-looking little red bird that likes flowers. You'll think it's a
Honeyeater. In fact, several now-extict Hawaiian Honeycreepers were until
recently classed as Honeyeaters, but that's been revised. The Amakihi is a
lovely, small green bird that's visible even at reasonably low elevations
on the main islands. Try to familiarize yourself with the ubiquitous
Japanese White-eyes as they really do blend into the Hawaiian bush. They're
not a native bird - it seem that this most widespread Pacific genus never
made it to the remote Hawaiian chain...until they were introduced. In fact,
coming from here, the White-eye shouldn't cause you a lot of confusion as
it's pretty similar looking to our east-coast birds.

If you want to stay closer to town, another good bet for forest birds is
even reachable on The Bus. The UH Manoa campus is good for common
introduced birds but you can do better further up the valley. (Manoa means
"big valley".) Up at the very top there is the Lyon Arboretum (very good)
which is a nice spot for a visit and can be a good place for a lot of the
introduced birds - including Shama. (They can also be lower down but
they're usually hard to spot in more crowded settings.) Right where you
would go into Lyon, there's a trail for the Manoa Falls. This is a popular
trail, particularly on weekends but it still nice. Once you reach the
falls, the trail keeps going up but few people take that stretch. As you
might guess, that's the better bet for birds. Apart from the Guam Swiftlet,
you can potentially see any of the common native and introduced birds. Keep
going up and you'll hit a t-junction. Turn right and keep going through the
bamboo stand and you'll eventually get a ridge view. Keep your eyes out for
Ohia a Lehue - a small, gnarly tree (Ohia) with red flowers (Lehue). They
look to me like Aussie trees...but what I know about trees would fit neatly
onto a very tiny piece of paper...

Tip: It tends to rain more in the afternoon, particularly as you head up
the mountains. Go for walks earlier in the day and prepare for slippery
conditions on any trails on any of the islands.

If you're after particular birds, habitats, birds, or types of birds feel
free to write for more details.

P.S. If you don't have a field guide, Audubon puts out a pocket guide that
should be perfectly adequte. Doug Pratt's comprehensive book may or may not
be available.  It's still excellent although 25+ years old. Also, it covers
such a huge territory it can get a bit confusing when you're just on one
tiny spec of land in the Pacific.
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