Bird-watching on Kaua‘i’s North Shore

A long-legged shore bird stands in the water fishing.

An Ae’o or Hawaiian Stilt, a subspecies of the Black-necked Stilt. Photo © James Brennan, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Birds can be seen all over Kaua‘i, but there are a few official places to go birding on the north side. Binoculars and patience are good accessories to bring. No matter how you may be exploring the island, there’s a good chance various birds will be seen throughout the day, and of course, there are always the unavoidable Kaua‘i chickens running wild in parking lots, hotel lawns, and shopping centers.

Kilauea

At the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge (end of Kilauea Rd., 808/828-1413, 10am-4pm daily), 31 acres protect numerous birds. Red-footed boobies, shearwaters, great frigate birds, brown boobies, red- and white-tailed tropic birds, and Laysan albatrosses, as well as green sea turtles and humpback whales, occupy the refuge. There’s an informational plaque at the top, and if you look down into the trees right in front of this area, birds can often be seen resting in their nests.

Princeville

Shearwaters nest at Queen’s Bath (go right on Punahele Road and take the second right onto Kapiolani Loop) and can be seen along the trail and cliffs. Residents are not allowed to bring dogs here due to a high number of dog-related deaths.

Hanalei

At the 917-acre Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge in Hanalei Valley, endangered native water birds such as the Hawaiian coot, black-necked stilt, koloa duck, and gallinule can be spotted, as well as several migrant species that have reclaimed their ancient nesting grounds. The area is decorated with taro plants; the root supplies about half of Hawaii’s poi. Although visitors are allowed in Hanalei Valley, no one is permitted in the designated wildlife area other than for fishing or hiking along the river. After crossing the first one-lane bridge into Hanalei, turn left onto Ohiki Road.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.

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