Aloha from the "Nui Mokupuni" Part One

PART 1 - Tourists, like me

The Big Island. Hawaii. Also called Hawaii. As in "the island of Hawaii in Hawaii". Confused? You see Hawaii is 1 of 6 Hawaiian Islands you can readily visit. Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and the island of Hawaii, but DON’T call it that. It just isn't done. They call it “The Big Island”. Why not call it "Nui Mokupuni"? That's "big island" in Hawaiian and sounds way cooler. Kind of like a middle linebacker. "And here comes Nui Mokupuni with a great tackle. I think he just saved a touchdown, Jim."

On Part 1 of this blog I share my encounters with the introduced species and migrants. Ya know, tourists, like me. Part 2 we’ll meet the endemic birds like Nene, I'iwi, Amakihi, Palila and more. Shall we? Let’s go!


Common Myna Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii DSC_4465.jpg

Common Myna

Seen at the airport in a tree by the baggage claim. I scrambled to get the camera out of my luggage. Lucky I did, too. I only saw another 13,437 Mynas over the course of the next week.

The Kona airport is basically outside, like a street mall. Walking around under foot, are Zebra Doves, which are essentially the street pigeons of Hawaii.

Zebra Dove Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii DSC_4622-1.jpg

Zebra Dove

They should have their own reality show. "The REAL Street Pigeons of The Kona Airport". I'll bet their cumulative IQ rivals that of the entire real housewives series.

We stayed at the Marriott at Waikoloa Beach, which proved to be a lovely habitat for non-native birds who, like non-native humans, seem to flourish in simulated and immaculately manicured surroundings.

Saffron Finch Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii DSC_4865-1.jpg

Saffron Finch

I was in the car at the hotel waiting for Mrs. S to check in when I saw these tiny yellow fairies descending in pairs from the palm trees and onto the lawn. I recognized them from the field guide.

I saw many of these birds for the first time from our 5th floor balcony, which I’ve found is a great place to survey the avian life. And to make other guests uneasy.

“Who’s the creep with binoculars on the balcony?” 

“That’s no creep. That’s amateur ornithologist Tony Starlight.”

“They’re not mutually exclusive you know.”

Japanese White-eye Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii DSC_4946.jpg

Japanese White-eye

I was told this is the Big Island’s most ubiquitous bird, found in each habitat, elevation, and micro-climate throughout the island. That big circle around the eye reminds me of the dog from Our Gang, aka “The Little Rascals”.

Japanese White-eye

Japanese White-eye

Yellow-billed Cardinal Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii DSC_4304-1.jpg

Yellow-billed Cardinal

They are much smaller than I had anticipated after perusing the field guide. This larger than life picture won’t help you with that misconception. I often wish I had a field guide that represented each bird to scale. Sure it would be a little bit bulky, but I suppose the California Condor could be included as the centerfold. Tastefully nude, of course. Come to think of it, all these birds are nude.

Yellow-fronted Canary Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii DSC_4909-1.jpg

Yellow-fronted Canary

Another teeny, tiny bird. Not just yellow-fronted either. Yellow-sided. Yellow-browed. Yellow-chinned. Yellow-breasted. Yellow-bellied. Yellow-rumped.

"I'm the King of the World" - Yellow-fronted Canary

"I'm the King of the World" - Yellow-fronted Canary

Mongoose Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii DSC_4541-1.jpg

Mon Goose

Take a gander at this guy! These little Mon Geese were everywhere and aren’t even in the field guide. Insert your own bad pun here.  ______________.

House Finch Kona, Hawaii DSC_5681-1.jpg

House Finch

Normally I wouldn’t include such a common bird from home, but he posed so beautifully in the light and at just the perfect angle, and basically demanded inclusion in this photo journal. His diet induced yellow coloration is different from the red we see in the Pacific Northwest. After seeing him, I avoided eating Pupus and Loco Moco for fear of turning yellow myself. (Although I somehow returned from Hawaii with an obvious pink hue.)

Spotted Dove Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii DSC_4553-1.jpg

Spotted Dove

Twice the size of the more common Zebra Dove. Very reminiscent of the Eurasian Collared-dove from home. Can be heard cooing in the morning hours.

Pacific Golden-Plover Kona, Hawaii DSC_5173-1.jpg

Pacific Golden-plover

These loners can be seen at odd locations throughout the island. Hotels, golf courses, lava rocks, beaches, parking lots. And even mid-air.

Pacific Golden-Plover

Pacific Golden-Plover

Black-crowned Night-heron Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii DSC_4409-1.jpg

Black-crowned Night-Heron

I’ve seen several of these in Florida and Oregon but couldn’t get any decent pictures, and now I’m blessed with several nice pics.

I always wondered what happens when people with hyphenated last names married. I guess it’s kinda like this bird’s name. Now I know.

Black-crowned Night-heron in flight Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii DSC_6256-1.jpg

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Hawaii’s strangest feature to me was the lack of shore birds near the beaches. No gulls, pelicans, crows, cormorants etc. Whenever I did see a bird flying near shore it was a BCNH.

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Kalij Pheasant Volcano National Park, Hawaii DSC_4681.jpg

Kalij Pheasant

This beauty joined our hike in Volcano National Park. When Mrs S. first spotted him she excitedly pointed and whispered “BIG BIRD." He was skulking about behind some brush. I snapped a picture and moved quietly closer, in stealth mode, not wanting to startle him away.

Kalij Pheasant Volcano National Park, Hawaii DSC_4672-1.jpg

Kalij Pheasant

He kept approaching, eventually even showing me his “guns” and emitting an aggressive “come at me, bro” attitude.

Kalij Pheasant

Kalij Pheasant

"I belong on a postage stamp" - Kalij Pheasant

"I belong on a postage stamp" - Kalij Pheasant

Wandering Tattler Kona, Hawaii DSC_5392-1.jpg

Wandering Tattler

Seen from a restaurant patio and originally dismissed as having spotted a Spotted Sandpiper. But I ventured off the patio and onto the lava rocks, camera in one hand, Mai Tai in the other. Dangerous, I know. I almost dropped the little paper umbrella.

Wild Turkey Waikaloa Village, Hawaii DSC_4759-1.jpg

Wild Turkey

Wow! What a face. Clearly the bulldog of the bird world (without all the slobber.)

Took a morning hike to Aimakapa Fish Pond. It was closed. How can a pond be closed? Good Lord. But I skulked around and was able to view the pond from afar and found a few more lifers, including the Hawaiian Coot and Hawaiian Stilt which will be featured in Part 2 of this saga. And this Ibis.

White-faced Ibis Kona, Hawaii DSC_5221-1.jpg

White-faced Ibis

I’ll have to take everyone’s word he has a white face. I would have named him a Green-butted Ibis since all I ever saw was his keester.

Cattle Egret juvenile Kona, Hawaii DSC_5535-1.jpg

Cattle Egret juvenile

Not able to get a better view, I walked beneath a tree teeming with baby egrets. I noticed they were busy trying to “whitewash” the beach below their heronry, but I bravely ventured in and managed a picture of this little guy gazing down on me.