Thursday, December 19, 2013

Big Island Birds- What a Treat!

We have been in Kona Hawaii (The Big Island) for a week getting ready for our trip to Midway Atoll to count Albatross nests. We leave tomorrow!

We were able to get out birding a few times and we wanted to share some photos of a few of the birds we have seen. 

On Sunday we participated in the annual open house for the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center. The KBCC was formed by a few groups for the critical task of breeding almost extinct birds on the Hawaiian Islands in captivity. The big one is the Alala (Hawaiian Crow) which is now extinct in the wild. They have been successfully breeding the Alala in captivity and have approximately 175 between 2 locations. They are also breeding the Paiohi (Small Kaua'i Thrush) , Maui Parrottbill and the Palia. All  critically endangered birds. It was an amazing experience to get the opportunity to see the Alala and other birds at close range. Unfortunately they ask folks to not share photos in public forums- such as this blog.  It was a lifetime dream to actually see them. 

Sunday morning, before our visit to KBCC, we stopped at Bird Park which is part of Volcanos National Park. One of our favorite spots to take a walk. This forest is a mixed forest of multiple tree species located on the flank of Mauna Loa. 

Erckel's Francolin

The ever hard to photograph- Apapane

This was a first- we have heard this bird before in Kaua'i - it is very loud and they call to one another. It is the Hwamei or Gray-sided Laughing Thrush. 

These Japanese White-eyes are everywhere!

The following bird is the Hawaii Elepaio- what a cutie- they are very curious and will follow hikers along the trail. 

The next photogenic bird is the Hawaii Amakihi. It is interesting that almost all of the endemic birds have different species on each island. 

On Tuesday this week we visited one of our favorite birding spots up on Saddle Rd- Pu'u O'o Trail. This trail is a historical trail designed to take cattle from the interior part of the island down to Hilo to be shipped to the Main Land. The forest here is intermittent with tracks of Ohia and Koa trees amongst old lava flows. These tracks or islands are remnant old growth plants and trees that survived the surrounding lava flows. These are called Kipukas. Here are a few of the photos from Tuesday's outing:

The trees with the red blossoms are the Ohia. You can see many of the birds feeding on these blossoms. 

These are Koa trees. The birds feed on blooms and insects galore. 

The following photos are of the Oma'o or Hawaiian Thrush. They are quite the songsters- this one sat for quite a while and sang and puffed up his feathers for us. This was the closest I have ever been to one. 

The I'iwi- what can you say about this spectacular bird- it has a call to match its spectacular appearance. You can see them flying and calling as the travel from tree to tree. You can just picture their bill in an Ohia bloom. 

We had a number of Amakihi around us through the hike. Very photogenic:)

An Apapane hiding in the shadows. 

There were quite a few Hawaii Elepaio following us through the forests. These dry forest Elepaio are a little lighter in color than the variety seen in Bird Park. The 2nd photo is of a juvenile bird. 

We drove home along the Saddle Rd looking for Pueo or the Hawaiian Owl. We saw 5 of them!! These owls hunt during the day - which makes it easier to see:)

Aloha - Happy & Healthy Holidays to everyone,

Turtle & Hawk

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