Hawaii shoreline cliffs, dunes and islets are home to thriving colonies of marine birds. Look for several birds from the tern family, including the white, gray, and sooty tern. Along with the terns are shearwaters and the enormous Laysan albatross, with its seven-foot wingspan. Tropicbirds, with their lovely streamer-like tails, are often seen along the windward coasts.
If you’re lucky, you can also catch a glimpse of the pueo (Hawaiian owl) in mountainous areas. Deep in the forests you can sometimes see elusive birds like the ‘elepaio, ‘amakihi, and the fiery red ‘i‘iwi. The ‘amakihi and ‘i‘iwi are endemic birds not endangered at the moment. The ‘amakihi is one of the most common native birds; yellowish-green, it frequents the high branches of the ‘ohi‘a, koa, and sandalwood trees looking for insects, nectar, or fruit. It is less specialized than most other Hawaiian birds, the main reason for its continued existence. The ‘i‘iwi, a bright red bird with a salmon-colored, hooked bill, is found in the forests above 2,000 feet. The most common native bird, the ‘apapane is abundant and easiest to see. It’s a chubby, red-bodied bird about five inches long with a black bill, legs, wingtips, and tail feathers.
Exotic, introduced birds are the most common in the beach parks and in urban areas. Black myna birds with their sassy yellow eyes are common mimics around town. Sparrows, introduced to Hawaii through O‘ahu in the 1870s, are everywhere. Munia, first introduced as caged birds from Southeast Asia, have escaped and can be found almost anywhere around the island of O‘ahu.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.