Our hoaloha hulu.

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.

The ones who don’t get breakfast buffet leftovers may not be this plump (polloplayer photo)

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.

The mynahs are camera shy – this was the best I could do

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:

Yellow-billed Cardinals

I’ve also seen the more common Northern Cardinal here, but haven’t been able to snap a photo.

A Northern Cardinal (image from naturefocused.com)

Of course the ubiquitous House Sparrow makes an appearance here. They think the pool is just a nice big bird bath:

“Pass the L’Occitane conditioner, please…”

This little guy looks like a sparrow, but I’m not sure – could it be a kind of finch?

I’m sure this one is common, but I haven’t yet identified it.

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:

Pretty birds! A pair of Saffron Finches (polloplayer photo)

Less exotic in appearance is this little House Finch we saw on a walk:

The rosy tail tells you this is not a sparrow.

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:

A pair of Black-Necked Stilts (polloplayer photo)

Another bird we’ve seen often is the Pacific Golden Plover:

Pacific Golden Plover (image from wikimedia.org)

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:

Cattle Egrets are members of the heron family. They were introduced to Hawaii in 1959 (image from outdoorphotoexposure.com)

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.

Zebra Doves were introduced to Hawaii from Southeast Asia in 1922. (image from diamond dove.info)

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!

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
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11 Responses to Our hoaloha hulu.

  1. dizzyguy says:

    CE here: We really have enjoyed the 3x daily visits by the thieving gypsies of the islands. We have achieved parity with them by, every day (twice), stealing rolls from the breakfast buffet and dinner table to satisfy their wild calls for more, more, more. Lots of fun for all of us though. Pictures by the Chicken Lady show them just as we see them here, including the little bathing beauties at the pool. Aloha and mahalo little friends!

  2. Katherine says:

    You may say not THAT Partridge family and yet that top bird bears a striking resemblance to Danny Bonaduce during his buffed-up period.

    Nothing says “I miss my chickens” as much as a blog entry from HAWAII about birds. I cannot stress this enough – put down the camera, pick up the book and the sunglasses and the mai-tai – you’re in HAWAII. (just teasing – I love this entry.)

    • polloplayer says:

      Danny Bonaduce may hunt you down if he sees this comment – isn’t he known for unpredictable behavior? One of the pool runners told me yesterday that there is a one-footed Francolin that lives over in the FS residences next to the resort and is fed and pampered by all the neighbors. Its preferred diet staple is peanut butter pretzels and it settles for nothing less. So much for the term bird brain…

  3. tdevir says:

    Agreeing with Katherine here- I think you missed your chickens so much that you couldn’t help but befriend the local “manu” on your lanai and then devote an entire post to them! Very sweet! When will Pierre get a post? haha

  4. Katherine says:

    By the way – I am often playing Scrabble with Dan and I have to try to convince him that we should allow Hawaiian words (this would be when I haven’t drawn a consonant in ages.) My point is that it’s an American language… Don’t know if Words With Friends would be as easily persuaded.

  5. Just seeing your blog to identify a couple of birds we saw while on the Big Island last week. Thanks for putting names to the Yellow Billed Cardinals and the Saffron Finches! The one photo you had that you wondered if it was a sparrow or now (looks like a wet bird) appears to be a female Yellow Billed Cardinal, maybe? All in all, thanks for identifying the birds for us!

    • polloplayer says:

      Hi Melinda,
      Yes, I later realized it was probably the female cardinal – I need to go back in and update the post to reflect that. Thanks for the reminder and for visiting Polloplayer. Hope you had a great time in Hawaii.

  6. Dolores Saul says:

    Aloha, I found your blog during I seached about the hawaiian name of the Red Chrested Cardinal. You named it “hoaloha hulu”. Very interesting. I saw both of them at Maui, the red crested and the northern Cardinal too! We have had holidays at the north shore this year. There, in the garden of our friends are a couple of the Northern Cardinals and at Baldwin Beach I saw the Red Crested. Both are beautiful. I´m an artist and prepare a exhibition in Germany “Aloha Hawaii”, which shows many pastel paintings from Maui. Have a look to my website: http://www.dolores-saul.de
    I think I will read mor often your blog. Have a nice day!

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