Everything about Hawaii – well, except maybe for the prices – seems gentle. Especially the language, where at some point in history they took most of the consonants and apparently packed them off to Germany.
The Hawaiian word for bird is manu. I don’t know what the Hawaiian word for “shameless beggar” might be, but they might consider applying it to the family of Grey Francolins who have staked out our lanai this week. They move in groups rather than individually and remind me of quail – I think they are related. Members of the Partridge family (no, not that Partridge family!) they are native to India and the Middle East and were introduced to the islands of Hawaii in the last forty or fifty years. Hoaloha means “friend” in Hawaiian, and “hulu” is the Hawaiian word for feather. These Francolins have most definitely become our feathered friends during our stay.
We’ve also sighted the Common Myna, also originally from India and imported to the Hawaiian islands in the 1860’s. While they are known to be nuisances and are quite numerous, the ones we’ve seen have been wary of humans.
Yellow-billed Cardinals are native to South America and were introduced to the island of Hawaii where they are common here on the Kona coast. I don’t believe they are found on the other islands. Just when I was despairing of getting a good photo of one, this pair obligingly hopped onto our lanai:
I’ve also seen the more common Northern Cardinal here, but haven’t been able to snap a photo.
Of course the ubiquitous House Sparrow makes an appearance here. They think the pool is just a nice big bird bath:
This little guy looks like a sparrow, but I’m not sure – could it be a kind of finch?
One of my favorite sightings has been the colorful Saffron Finch, a South American tanager that only makes its Hawaiian home here on the Big Island:
Less exotic in appearance is this little House Finch we saw on a walk:
Our resort seems to have put a lot of effort into preserving wetlands on its property, so there are shore birds to be observed at a well-maintained estuary. A small army of gardeners is deployed each day to remove sheets of algae that threaten to choke off the area. Black-necked Stilts are frequent visitors to the estuary:
Another bird we’ve seen often is the Pacific Golden Plover:
I saw a cattle egret in the hotel parking lot, although it was hard to get close enough to get a good photo. These birds earn their name from their habit of traveling with herd animals like cows and sheep and feeding off the ever-present insects and parasites. Here’s a better image than I was able to get:
We’ve also seen numerous Zebra Doves, which are familiar to us from the other Hawaiian Islands. We saw them on Bora Bora many years ago and their low cry from the bushes is a sound that we automatically associate with being in our favorite place – the islands of the South Pacific.
We’ve seen all these birds just in passing, so I can only imagine what a wealth of opportunities await the serious birdwatcher in Hawaii. Some resources for identifying birds in the islands are the Hawaii Audubon Society, What Bird and this Wikipedia article. Enjoy finding your own hoaloha hulu. Aloha!