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a bird sitting on a rock near the ocean

If you’re an avid bird lover, Kauai is the place for you! The lists of different species of birds are endless because the wildlife of Kauai is very well preserved. It’s the most untouched island in Hawaii, which means the bird and nature there flourish.

Kauai, AKA “the Garden Isle”, nicknamed because of its beautiful landscape, is home to roughly 80 species of birds. 21 of those birds are native to the island. In this blog post, we’ll talk about some of the rarest, most abundant, and most interesting birds on Kauai.

Rare birds native to Kauai

There are 21 birds on Kauai that are native to the island but the most peculiar part is six of those birds are endemic to Kauai, meaning: those species don’t reside anywhere else on earth. Those include:

  • Kauai Elepaio – This little guy likes the higher grounds of Kauai. They have a similar body to a chickadee and they like to wear their tail up in the air. They have a grey back with white on their wings. They’re outgoing and love to know what’s going on. The Kauai Elepaio is even known to follow hikers.
  • Puaiohi – Puaiohi are a bit more secretive because the habitats they’ve chosen are so minimal on Kauai. They also like high grounds and live near streams. They are known for their larger size and beautiful sounds.
  • Akikiki – Akikikis are under a hundred in population right now, but there are efforts being made. They are most often seen scavenging forest grounds in groups for food when they are seen.
  • Anianiau – They are the tiniest Hawaiian honeycreeper, yet you still can’t miss them. Males are bright yellowish green and females are a slightly paler yellow. Anianiau is a big family bird. They’re monogamous and the male bird makes sure to take care of their female spouse and babies while they’re on nest rest.
  • Akekee – These birds are similar to Anianiau because they are honeycreepers as well but they also share the same green and yellow colors. The difference is, that the male Akekee has black coloring on their face which makes them look like they’re wearing masks.
  • Kauai Amakihi – Another Hawaiian honeycreeper, with yellow colors. The difference between them and the previous two birds mentioned would be their bill, which is long curved, and pointy, and their song, which does not change in pitch (which is a high one) or speed.

Kauai is a safe haven for these endemic species, which is why it’s one of the best places to bird watch in the world.

Another bird native to Kauai would be the Nene, or Hawaiian Goose (Branta Sandvicensis), which also happens to be Hawaii’s state bird! They sound similar and look similar to a Canadian goose but they have their own unique twist. On top of their familiar honk, they also have a low Nay-Nay sound in their bag of tricks.

They are the rarest goose on earth. In the 50s their population was reduced to around 30 geese because of predators such as small Indian mongooses, pigs, and feral cats, but they have successfully been reintroduced with Kauai’s conservation efforts.

There are also the Hawaiian Coots (Alae Ke’oke’o). If you go ziplining with Koloa Zipline, keep an eye out for a black bird with a white bill that forms a white stripe through the middle of its red eyes. They’re another endangered bird that mainly resides on and around the Waita Reservoir that just so happens to be located approximately in the middle of our zipline course.

Most Abundant Birds on Kauai

There’s a high chance, that if you know anything about Hawaii, you know about the chickens that run wild throughout all the Islands, especially Kauai. On the Islands, they’re called Moa or Red Junglefowl.

Junglefowl was coined by the Polynesians when they first brought them to Kauai over a thousand years ago. But the Kauai chickens of today may not all be direct descendants of the Polynesian Junglefowl.

It’s rumored that the hurricanes that happened to Kauai in the 80s and 90s damaged chicken coops and essentially set them free, so naturally, they went back to the jungles where they mated with the Red Junglefowl. It’s safe to say that the two species of chickens colliding doubled the chicken population. With having no real natural predators, their growing numbers have made them a staple of Hawaii!

Another bird that flourishes on Kauai is the White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon Lepturus). A white bird with a string-like tail that you will probably only see in the air. They are indigenous to Hawaii but now take flight all over the tropics.

One of the most easily spotted birds is the Great Frigate Bird because it is the largest bird on Kauai and although it is black and white, males have a bright red gular pouch under their bill that they inflate to attract females. The great Frigate Bird is also known as “Iwa”, which is Hawaiin for thief, because of their unmatched talent for stealing fish out of smaller birds’ mouths.

Other Birds of Kauai

The other 59 species of birds on Kauai have reached Hawaii’s oldest Island in many different ways and from all over the world. It’s crazy to think how this Island formed from a volcanic eruption has become a meeting grounds for Aviation.

For example, in the 60s, Rose-Ringed Parakeets, who are native to Africa and India, were brought to Kauai as pets. After a couple of those pets made it to the jungles of Hawaii, their population exploded.

Another, abundant, but originally foreign, bird of Kauai, is the Zebra Dove. Zebra Doves are native to Southeast Asia but now reside all over Hawaii, beginning in the 20s. They have stripes as you could imagine by the name and a soft cooing sound similar to a pigeon.

These are only a couple of the birds that made Hawaii their home, gladly, after being brought here. There are others such as Peacocks, Pigeons, Sparrow, and Cardinals.

Visit Kauai and experience the diverse bird population from their view!

Come ziplining with Koloa Zipline and get a birds-eye-view… of Kauai’s birds!