Tag Archives: Wetland Birds

Hawaiian stilt feeding

Hawaiian stilts are endemic, but also endangered because of loss of habitat and a rise in predators. They’re easy to identify with their strong black and white coloration, long black beak, and even longer pink legs. This one was wading in deeper water than I usually see them, probing for arthropods and insects.

Signs: Nēnē crossing

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Unusual.’ See more responses here.

Nēnē, the endemic Hawaiian geese, are long-distant relatives of Canada geese. They were listed as an endangered species, until the end of last year when their status was changed to ‘threatened.’

Because of the nēnē’s precarious numbers, it isn’t unusual to see “Slow, Nēnē Crossing” signs, particularly in areas where nēnē breed. Because their numbers are on the rebound on the Big Island, it’s also not unusual for me to see nēnē, on my daily walks or when I was working. But in my years on the island, I never saw a nēnē anywhere near one of the warning signs, until earlier this year, just before the lockdown. This sign and these two birds were in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where a fair number of the birds live and breed.

I had to stop and get a photo of this unusual event, fortunately without getting myself or the birds killed (it’s a busy, narrow road). The only disappointing thing about this encounter was that neither of the nēnē actually crossed the road. I guess I’ll have to wait another seven years to witness that.

Ring-necked ducks and lesser scaup

I saw a little group of ducks on a small reservoir near Hapuna. Most are ring-necked ducks, the bird on the right in the top photo being a male, and the two birds on the left below, being females. The odd one out is the bird on the left in the top photo and on the right below. That’s a female lesser scaup.

According to my bird book, a small number of lesser scaups migrate to Hawaii every year, but ring-necked ducks are considered uncommon visitors.

Thanks to birdforum.net for help with the identification of the female lesser scaup.

Top hat and tails

This Pacific golden plover is all dressed up with somewhere to go, and that somewhere is the Arctic. These birds overwinter in Hawaii, and elsewhere, before heading north to their summer nesting grounds. But before they go, they lose their usual pale front for this snappy look. Not quite top hat and tails, but awfully close.

Posted in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Top.’ See more responses here.

Nenes and gosling

I’ve lived on the Big Island for more than seven years now, and I’ve seen lots of nene in that time. But until recently, I’d never seen a nene gosling. Then, a few weeks ago, I was driving and saw a pair of nenes with a gosling alongside the road. Alas, I couldn’t stop and take a photo at that time. I went back to the area later, but didn’t see the family again.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was out on one of my regular walks around Upolu and I saw this family at the airport. The two parent birds were very attentive and the chick was just a little ball of fuzz.

When I see nene at Upolu, I call the information in to the East Hawai’i Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Forestry and Wildlife keep track of the birds and how they’re doing. Many birds are banded and, when I can, I record that information and pass it on. The bands can be seen in the photos, but not the details. However, I was able to get other pictures that showed the parent birds were 8A7 and 8A6. The color of the bands helps identify them and which leg the bands are on depends on the bird’s sex.

I saw this family again the next day, but not after that. It turned out that the Forestry and Wildlife people relocated the family because they felt that the airport was a dangerous place for the gosling, particularly as it grows and learns to fly.

Still, it was fun to see the little one when I did. It reminded me of the baby goats that I see around the island. Like them, it would busily follow its parents in foraging for food, then suddenly drop to the ground to rest, only to bounce up again soon after and peck away again.

Black-crowned night heron catches a fish

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘For the Birds.’ See more offerings here.

Bird baths and bird feeders are a couple of subjects for this theme and these photos are of what is, in effect, a bird feeder. It’s a fish pond at Hualalai Resort and where there’s a fish pond, there will likely be herons. I saw half a dozen perched around one of the ponds there, but this adult black-crowned night heron was the only one I saw catch anything.

It lunged its beak into the water and pulled this good-sized fish out onto the bank. After a few minutes of tossing the fish around to get it lined up properly, the bird swallowed it whole. The photo at right shows the fish on its way down.

Hawaiian star compass

Kohanaiki Beach Park, north of Kailua Kona, is a favorite spot for surfers. But at the south end of the park, the focus switches to history.

There’s a hālau, Ka Hale Waʽa, which is used for teaching Hawaiian crafts and culture. There’s a garden which grows the same kind of plants brought over by the first Polynesian settlers. And there’s a Hawaiian star compass, a 17-foot diameter recreation showing how the Polynesians used to navigate the vast open spaces of the Pacific Ocean.

The top photo show shows the compass. The middle photo shows a plaque, which explains the basics of how it works, using the points of the compass, the sun, nighttime celestial bodies and the ocean swells. I won’t go into detail here, but more information can be found here, here, and here. Below, the setting of the compass, with a Pacific golden plover walking on it. I like this shot because the plover is said to be the reason Polynesians discovered Hawaii. Each year, plovers summer in Alaska and then fly south as far as New Zealand. It is said that the Polynesians noted this small bird’s annual journey back and forth and figured there must be land somewhere to the north, so they set out in their canoes to find it.

Posted in response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge on the theme of ‘Round.’ See more offerings here.

Hawaiian coot diving

I saw this Hawaiian coot at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, north of Kailua Kona. It was puttering around in one of the inland lagoons, periodically diving for food, as it is in these photos.

For more information about Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, go to https://www.nps.gov/kaho/index.htm or bigislandhikes.com/kaloko-honokohau-park/.