State of Hawaii

I'iwi Drepanis coccinea ©Dubi Shapiro Website

Hawaii is an island state of the United States, in the Pacific Ocean about 3,200 km (2,000 miles) southwest of the US mainland. It is the only state not on the North American mainland, the only state that is an archipelago, and the only state in the tropics. It is made up of 137 volcanic islands that comprise almost the entire Hawaiian archipelago (the exception, which is outside the state, is Midway Atoll). Spanning 2,400 km (1,500 miles), the state is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian sub-region of Oceania. It’s ocean coastline is consequently the fourth-longest in the US, at about 1,210 km (750 miles). The eight main islands, from northwest to southeast, are Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and Hawaiʻi, after which the state is named; the latter is often called the ‘Big Island or Hawaii Island to avoid confusion with the state or archipelago. The uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands make up most of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the largest protected area in the US and the fourth-largest in the world.

Of the 50 US states, Hawaii is the eighth-smallest in land area and the 11th-least populous; but with 1.5 million residents, it ranks 13th in population density. Two-thirds of Hawaii residents live on O’ahu, home to the state’s capital and largest city with ovwer a third of a million inhabitants, Honolulu. Hawaii is among the country’s most diverse states, owing to its central location in the Pacific and over two centuries of migration.

At 2500 miles from the nearest landmass, Hawaii is the World’s most isolated archipelago. The volcanic islands located in the centre of the North Pacific Ocean are some of the most beautiful and diverse islands anywhere on Earth. Geologically the Islands are unique; the Hawaii Islands have the wettest spot on Earth (on Kauai); the World’s largest dormant volcano (on Maui); the World’s tallest Sea Cliffs (on Molokai) and the World’s most active volcano (on Hawaii). Habitats range from alpine mountains, lowland deserts and barren lava flows to tropical rainforests, wetlands and low-lying sand islands.

Lyon Arboretum, Oahu ©Daderot

The Hawaiian Island Chain stretches 1,523 miles across the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii in the southeast to Kure Atoll in the northwest. Although the Chain comprises many islands and reefs most visitors to Hawaii will visit one of the main Islands of Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii. Access to the other islands is strictly controlled as most are within the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which provides habitat for millions of seabirds, several endemic land birds, as well as Hawaiian Monk Seals, Green Sea Turtles and many tropical fish.

The weather in the Islands is, as would be expected of a tropical location, generally warm and pleasant, although it can be much colder at high elevations, such as Haleakala Crater on Maui. The windward coasts of the Islands tend to get the greater share of rainfall, leaving the more sheltered leeward sides dryer and often, therefore, more barren areas.

Birding Hawaii

Being such an isolated group of islands relatively few species managed to make it to Hawaii, but of those that did 90% were found nowhere else on Earth. Birds were of course one group able to make the long journey and although the Islands may not boast a huge list of bird species (currently about 285 species); it is impressive for such a remote location and the variety is certainly enough to keep even the most avid birder interested.

As would be expected of an isolated island chain, seabirds are one of the most conspicuous groups of birds present, and many of the 80 species recorded so far can be seen even in the Main Islands. Albatross, Frigatebirds, Boobies, Terns, Noddies, Tropicbirds, Shearwaters and Petrels, including the endemic Newell’s Shearwater and Hawaiian Dark-rumped Petrel can all be seen with relative ease from land. A pelagic from one of Hawaii’s harbours will provide better views of the breeding species, as well as increase the chance of spotting some of the scarcer and rarer migrant seabirds that do not breed in Hawaii, but pass through to and from their breeding/wintering grounds.

Endemic wetland species are represented by three species of Wildfowl – Hawaiian Duck or Koloa, Laysan Duck and Hawaiian Goose or Nene – Hawaii’s state bird. The Hawaiian Duck is present on several islands, though is common only on Kauai. Laysan Duck is confined to the Island of Laysan in the NW Chain. Nene are recognised by most people as a conservation success story and birds can once again be seen on several of the Main Islands, although its long-term survival is still uncertain. More than 38 species of migrant Ducks and Geese have been recorded from Hawaii as well and although many wetlands have been destroyed or altered there remains (just) enough habitat to make migration worthwhile for several species. Species occur mainly from the continental United States, but Eurasian species also occur with some frequency.

Only one species of Shorebird breeds in Hawaii – the Hawaiian Black-necked Stilt, an endemic sub-species and can be found on all the Main Islands. Many species of both American and Eurasian waders have been recorded in the Islands, some annually and some just once, but almost anything is possible, borne out by the impressive number seen – 46 species. The endemic Hawaiian Coot and Hawaiian race of the Common Moorhen are also easily seen on ponds and wetlands around the State.

Due to the remoteness of the Islands only a few passerine species were able to make the huge ocean crossing and it is estimated that as few as 15 original colonist species accounted for over 100 endemic bird species which evolved there. At least 35 of these had become extinct before Western contact and a further 23 or so have become extinct since that time – resulting in Hawaii often has dubious honour of being called the extinction capital of the World. Humans directly or indirectly, in almost all cases, are the main factor, which have contributed to the demise of so many of Hawaii`s unique species.

The most amazing evolution was that of the Hawaiian Honeycreepers (family Fringillidae, subfamily Drepanidinae); which exposed to a variety of food sources and habitat types evolved into more than 50 unique species and sub-species. At least three other families of passerine also evolved including Thrushes, Flycatchers and Warblers. The Australasian Honeyeaters (family Meliphagidae) also reached Hawaii and radiated into many species.

Birders to Hawaii today still have an opportunity to see some of the World’s rarest and most beautiful species. As well as the numerous wetland species and seabirds there are over twenty-five extant endemic forest species including a Buteo Hawk (Hawaiian Hawk); a Corvid (Hawaiian Crow); two Thrushes (Puaiohi and Omao); an Owl (Hawaiian Short-eared owl) and the amazingly varied honeycreepers such as I’iwi, ‘Apapane, ‘Akiapola’au, ‘Amakihi, Palila and ‘Akohekohe.

Birding in Hawaii is generally easy, with most areas accessible by road or path. Nearly all the endemic forest birds are confined to the higher elevation native forests, where mosquitoes carrying avian Malaria are fewer, but in some areas these birds can be seen at lower elevation and in non-native vegetation. Many of the lowland wetlands, ponds and reservoirs, coastal areas with high bird populations and important forest areas are contained within National Parks, Special Protection Areas or National Wildlife Refuges and help to protect Hawaii`s unique flora and fauna, whilst also giving visitors the chance to see native species.

A visit to the Hawaiian Islands to view endemic avian fauna is a very special experience and one which should be enjoyed and appreciated, whilst bearing in mind the terrible damage that man has caused and is only now beginning to redress.

Top Sites
  • *Midway Atoll (or Midway Island)

    Satellite View
    Midway Atoll is not part of the State of Hawaii; it is a 2.4 square mile (6.2 km²) atoll located in the North Pacific Ocean (near the northwestern end of the Hawaiian archipelago), about one-third of the way between Honolulu and Tokyo. Midway Atoll is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States. It is less than 140 nautical miles (259 km; 161 mi) east of the International Date Line, about 2,800 nautical miles (5,200 km; 3,200 mi) west of San Francisco and 2,200 nautical miles (4,100 km; 2,500 mi) east of Tokyo. It consists of a ring-shaped barrier reef and several sand islets. The two significant pieces of land, Sand Island and Eastern Island, provide habitat for hundreds of thousands of seabirds.
  • Hawaii - NP Hawaii Volcanoes

    WebpageSatellite View
    Open All Year. Entrance Fee, some Concessions. 24 hour hotline for information on the latestvolcanic activity: 1 808 985 6000This unique location contains two active volcanoes, tropical beaches and a snow-capped mountain and must be regarded as one of the most fascinating places on Earth. Kilauea Caldera, the sunken center of Kilauea Volcano is still steaming and has been producing lava constantly since 1983, making it the most active volcano in the World. Even without the special birds the area is well worth exploring just for the amazing geological features that can be observed here - where else on Earth can you witness a live volcano with such ease?The area around Volcano House hotel is a good place to look for Omao, Apapane and Common Amakihi and nearby forested areas hold these species as well as I`iwi and Hawaii Elepaio and introduced Red-billed Leiothrix, Hwamei and Kalij Pheasant. Along Crater Rim Drive White-tailed Tropicbirds can often be seen flying around over the craters and lava flows and even inside the Sulphurous craters and Nene can often be seen along the road here. Chain of Craters Road goes from Kilauea Crater to the coast and is a spectacular drive and can be a good area to look for Hawaiian Hawks (I'o) and Nene, and Red-billed Francolins are present in small numbers, although not yet on the official Hawaii list. At the very end of the road Black Noddies are easy to see as are White-tailed Tropicbirds, especially near the sea arch where they nest.
  • Hawaii - NWR Hakalau Forest

    WebpageSatellite View
    Restricted Access. Access by arrangement or on organised tours only. For access details birders should contact The Refuge Manager, Hakalau Forest NWR, 32 Kinoole Street, Suite 101, Hilo, HI 96720 or telephone 1 808 933 6915..This is the first National Wildlife refuge to be established purely for the management of native forest birds and now includes about 16,500 acres of land. Hakalau Forest is one of the best birding spots in Hawaii and is home to many endemic species, many which occur in larger numbers here than any other location.Hawaii Elepaio, Omao, I'iwi, Apapane, Hawaii Creeper, Hawaii Akepa, Akiapola'au, Hawaii Amakihi and I'o (Hawaiian Hawk) can all be found in this amazing area, and in many cases without too much difficulty. I'iwi and Akepa seem to occur here more commonly than at any other site and one can almost imagine what it would have been like in a native forest a few hundred years ago. The fantastic Akiapola`au is present in small numbers and can sometimes be seen foraging along branches and using its bill to hack and dig insects out from tiny crevices – it is certainly one of Hawaii`s most amazing birds. Red-billed Leiothrix can often be found feeding amongst the vegetation. On the way up to the refuge there are several ranch ponds which hold Koloa (some re-introduced) and occasionally migrant ducks. Erckel's Francolin, Chukar, Kalij Pheasant, Turkey and California Quail can often be seen from the road on the way to the refuge.
  • Kauai - NWR Kilauea Point

    WebpageSatellite View
    Open All Year. Open daily from 10am to 4pm. Closed on some Public Holidays, inc. Christmasand New Years day. $3 per person entrance fee, some concessions. Visitor Center: 1 808 828 0168Kilauea Point is a must for all birders visiting Kauai. The Point and the offshore Mokuaeae Island are the Northernmost points in the Main Hawaiian Islands. Laysan Albatross nest on the refuge and can easily be seen soaring around the Point between November and July. Young Albatross can be seen waiting for their parents from around late January onwards. Occasionally a Black-footed Albatross will also check out the Point. Great Frigatebirds are usually present all year at Kilauea, but have not nested so far, despite post-breeding season roosts of over 450 birds. In the evenings especially, Frigatebirds chase Red-footed Boobies returning from fishing trips in the hope of stealing an easy meal. Red-footed Boobies are probably the most visible species on the refuge with up to 4000 birds nesting at Kilauea. Brown Boobies are less common at Kilauea but up to 30 or 40 birds can sometimes be seen roosting. Wedge-tailed Shearwater is the predominant Shearwater species in Hawaii and large numbers nest at Kilauea Point and can be seen from early March when they return from sea to nest in burrows or under bushes. During the summer young downy birds in all stages of growth can be seen along the footpath and under vegetation just a few feet away. Newell's Shearwater is an endemic species found only on Kauai. it nests in the high mountains, but a couple of pairs have been introduced to Kilauea Point in the hope of providing an extra population in a different habitat. Endemic Hawaiian Petrels do not breed at Kilauea Point, they nest in the interior mountains, but birds pass over Kilauea in the evening just before dark and can be seen from the overlook, heading inland. Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds are both present and between mid-February and August Red-tailed Tropicbirds put on fascinating courtship displays, where one bird circles over the other – often just yards from visitors. Nene or Hawaiian Goose, the State bird of Hawaii has a flourishing flock at Kilauea Point, and numbers over 100 birds and adults with young can often be seen around the refuge between November and April.
  • Kauai - SP Koke'e & The Alakai Swamp

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Open access all year. No entrance fee. Camping restrictions. Kokee SP and the Alakai Swamp are the places to see Kauai's endemic forest species - Kauai Elapaio, Kauai Amakihi, Anianiau, Puaiohi, Akikiki, Akekee, Apapane and I'iwi are all present, although a bit of luck is needed to see all eight. Red Junglefowl, the original chicken brought to Kauai by the Polynesians is present here and are mostly pure and countable. Nene are frequently seen on the meadow by the museum or further up the road but can sometimes be elusive. The Kalalau Valley Overlook has a breathtaking vista of the valley and ocean and is a good spot to look for White-tailed Tropicbirds wheeling around below. Introduced White-rumped Shama, Northern and Red-crested Cardinals, Hwamei, Japanese Whiteeye, House Finch, Common Myna and Spotted and Zebra Doves are all easily seen anywhere in the vicinity. Hawaiian Petrels and Newell`s Shearwaters can be heard calling here at night during April to September, but are hard to see as the area is often shrouded in mist during the nights and there is little light unless a full moon is present. Band-rumped Storm Petrels probably nest in Waimea Canyon, although so far no nest has been discovered. Koloa or Hawaiian Duck are occasionally seen in the wetter parts of the Alakai Swamp and Peregrine Falcon and Golden Eagle have been recorded here in the past.
  • Maui - NP Haleakala

    WebpageSatellite View
    Open All Year. Entrance Fee, some Concessions. Park Information 1 808 572 7749The undoubted centerpiece of Maui is Haleakala Crater. It is the World's largest dormant volcano and is 7.5 miles long and 2.5 miles wide and last erupted 200 years ago. On the way up Skylarks, Chukar and Grey and Black Francolins are often easy to see along the road, as are Hawaiian Owls and Ring-necked Pheasants. In the wooded areas on the way up there are usually Red-billed Leiothrix, Northern Cardinal and Hwamei. In the scrub zone Common Amakihi, Apapane and Short-eared owls can be seen alongside the endemic Silversword, a relation of the Sunflower. At the very summit it is a good place to look for Chukar and at night during March to September Hawaiian Petrels, although they are often hard to see as they come and go in the dark. Nene can often be seen near the Park Headquarters, and there are usually a few Northern Mockingbirds hanging around too. Nearby at Hosmer Grove endemic forest birds can be seen – Maui Creeper, Hawaii Amakihi, I'iwi, Apapane and it is possible that a walk conducted by the Nature Conservancy into the adjacent Waikomoi Preserve might produce Akohekohe or Maui Parrotbill, both endemic to Maui.
  • Oahu - NWR James Campbell

    WebpageSatellite View
    Restricted Access. No Entrance Fees. Guided Tours outside nesting season - August 1st - February 15th. Telephone: 1 808 637 6330 for information and tour reservations. James Campbell NWR is one of Hawaii's premier wetland sites. The main purpose of the refuge is to provide habitat for four endangered birds, the endemic Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Moorhen and Hawaiian Duck. The native Black-crowned Night Heron and the introduced Cattle Egret are also present in large numbers. A single Fulvous Whistling Duck remains from a small 1980s population which probably colonised naturally. The refuge is a great magnet for migrant Wildfowl and Shorebirds and species such as Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal, Garganey, Lesser and Greater Scaup, American and Eurasian Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Whimbrel, Killdeer, Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers, Black-tailed Godwit and Spotted Sandpiper have all been recorded, some annually. James Campbell is the only place in the Main Islands where Bristle-thighed Curlew occur regularly and introduced species found here include African Silverbills, Red Avadavats, Chestnut Mannikins and Waxbills.
  • Christian Melgar


Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 337

    (As at April 2024)
  • Number of endemics: 32

    29 true endemics known to still be extant:

    Hawaiian Goose Branta sandvicensis
    Laysan Duck Anas laysanensis
    Hawaiian Duck Anas wyvilliana
    Hawaiian Coot Fulica alai
    Hawaiian Hawk Buteo solitarius
    Hawaiian Crow Corvus hawaiiensis (Extinct in the wild) Kaua’i Elepaio Chasiempis sclateri
    O’ahu Elepaio Chasiempis ibidis
    Hawai’i Elepaio Chasiempis sandwichensis
    Millerbird Acrocephalus familiaris
    Omao Myadestes obscurus
    Puaiohi Myadestes palmeri
    Laysan Finch Telespiza cantans
    Nihoa Finch Telespiza ultima
    Palila Loxioides bailleui
    Maui parrotbill Pseudonestor xanthophrys
    Common ʻamakihi
    Oʻahu ʻamakihi Hemignathus flavus
    Kauaʻi ʻamakihi Hemignathus kauaiensis
    Akiapola’au Hemignathus munroi
    Akikiki Oreomystis bairdi
    Anianiau Magumma parva
    Hawaiʻi creeper Oreomystis mana
    Maui Alauahio Paroreomyza montana
    Akekee Loxops caeruleirostris
    Hawaii Akepa Loxops coccineus
    Iiwi Vestiaria coccinea
    Akohekohe Palmeria dolei
    Apapane Himatione sanguinea

    Three Breeding endemics (birds that nest nowhere else):

    Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis
    Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes
    Hawaiian PetrelPterodroma sandwichensis

  • Avibase

    PDF Checklist
    This checklist includes all bird species found in Hawaii , based on the best information available at this time. It is based on a wide variety of sources that I collated over many years. I am pleased to offer these checklists as a service to birdwatchers.
  • Hawaii Audubon Society

    PDF Checklist
    The Hawaiian Islands Bird Checklist – 2017 (below) lists the species of birds that have occurred naturally in the Hawaiian Islands, and alien species brought by man, which are established as self-sustained populations in the wild. A status symbol marks each species as being a native resident, an alien resident, a seabird that visits Hawai‘i only for breeding or a species that visits Hawai‘i when not breeding.
  • Wikipedia

    Annotated List
    The list contains 337 species. Of them, 64 are or were endemic to the islands, 130 are vagrants and 52 were introduced by humans
Useful Reading

  • A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific

    | By H Douglas Pratt, Phillip Bruner & Delwyn Berrett | Princeton University Press | 1992 | Paperback | 409 pages, 45 plates with colour illustrations; 48 b/w illustrations, 14 maps | ISBN: 9780691023991 Buy this book from
  • A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hawai'i: The Main Islands and Offshore Waters

    | By Jim Denny | University of Hawaii Press | 2009 | Paperback | 210 pages, 196 colour illustrations | ISBN: 9780824833831 Buy this book from
  • A Pocket Guide to Hawaii's Birds & their Habitats

    | By H Douglas Pratt & Jack Jeffrey | Mutual Publishing | 2013 | Paperback | 120 pages, 340+ colour photos, colour illustrations | ISBN: 9781566471459 Buy this book from
  • American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Hawaii

    | By Helen Raine, André F Raine & Jack Jeffrey| Scott & Nix, Inc | 2020 | Flexibound | 176 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 9781935622710 Buy this book from
  • Collins Field Guide: Birds of New Zealand, Hawaii, Central and West Pacific

    | By Ber Van Perlo | Harper Collins | 2011 | Hardback | 256 pages | 95 colour plates | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780007287383 Buy this book from
  • Enjoying Birds and Other Wildlife in Hawaii

    | By H Douglas Pratt | Mutual Publishing | 2002 | Paperback | 208 pages, Colour illustrations | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780935180008 Buy this book from
  • Hawaii's Beautiful Birds

    | By H Douglas Pratt & Jack Jeffrey | Mutual Publishing | 1996 | Paperback | 64 pages, 178 colour photos | ISBN: 9781566471206 Buy this book from
  • Hawaii's Birds

    | Written & published by Hawaii Audubon Society | 2005 | Paperback | 144 pages, 150 colour photos, tables, maps | ISBN: 9781889708003 Buy this book from
  • Hawaiian Birds of the Sea: Na Manu Kai

    | By Robert J Shallenberger | University of Hawaii Press | 2009 | Paperback | 120 pages, 138 colour illustrations | ISBN: 9780824834036 Buy this book from
  • The Birds of Kaua'I

    | By Jim Denny | University of Hawaii Press | 1999 | Paperback | 102 pages, Colour photos | ISBN: 9780824820978 Buy this book from
  • The Birdwatcher's Guide to Hawaii

    | By Rick Soehren | University of Hawaii Press | 1998 | Paperback | 227 pages, 12 plates with colour photos; b/w photos, 6 b/w maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780824816834 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • State Bird

    Nene Branta sandwicensis
Festivals & Bird Fairs
  • Hawai'i Island Festival of Birds

    Make sure you don't miss the next one... sign up here
Museums & Universities
  • Bishop Museum Hawaii

    The Hawaii Biological Survey (HBS) is an ongoing natural history inventory of the Hawaiian archipelago. It was created to locate, identify, and evaluate all native and non-native fauna and flora within the state, and to maintain the reference collections of that biota for a wide range of uses.
  • Koke'e Natural History Museum

    Kōkeʻe Museum is the spot to plan hikes and the rest of your park visit. Knowledgeable staff and volunteers are happy to help you decide on the trail(s) for you and advise you of current conditions and hazards.
  • University of Hawai'i at Manoa

    Research interests of various members of the zoology department
  • American Bird Conservancy

    To many, it's paradise. Hawai‘i is a wonderland of natural beauty. But look a little closer, and you'll discover that no place on Earth is home to more bird species under threat of extinction. In fact, Hawai‘i is the bird extinction capital of the world.
  • Hawaii Audubon Society

    Our Mission is to foster community values that result in the protection and restoration of native ecosystems and conservation of natural resources through education, science and advocacy in Hawai‘i and the Pacific. The Hawai‘i Audubon Society (HAS) serves as a source for information and advocacy in the community, and provides a network for visiting and local birders. HAS also offers field trips and hands-on service trips in habitat restoration with opportunities to gain experiences with Hawai‘i’s wildlife and natural environments. Six times per year, HAS publishes the journal, ‘Elepaio, that contains peer-reviewed scientific articles, updates on environmental issues in Hawai‘i and the Pacific, and HAS activities listings. For more information, visit the programs and projects section of our website.
  • Hawaii Birdwatching

    Facebook Page
  • Kilauea Point Natural History Association

    Kilauea Point Natural History Association (KPNHA) works in cooperation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to promote interpretive, educational, and scientific projects that focus on Hawaii's islands, among the most unique and interesting islands in the world. This website gives you an introduction to KPNHA and the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
  • Nature Conservancy in Hawaii

    From mauka to makai, The Nature Conservancy works with people like you to protect Hawai‘i’s spectacular diversity of life. We invite you to join the effort. Together, we can protect the plants and animals that share our world and help keep alive what is best in our own lives.

Abbreviations Key

  • IBA Ka'elepulu Wetland

    WebsiteSatellite View
    This privately-owned wetland was created in 1995 to provide habitat for native Hawaiian waterbirds as well as migratory birds such as the Golden Plover. Ongoing work in the wetland includes removing invasive plants, enhancing nesting and feeding areas, and keeping the waterways open…
  • MNM Nihoa

    InformationSatellite View
    Nihoa, also known as Bird Island or Moku Manu, is the tallest of ten islands and atolls in the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). The island is located at the southern end of the NWHI chain, 296 km (160 nmi) southeast of Necker Island. Endemic birds like the Nihoa finch and Nihoa millerbird, and endemic plants like the Nihoa fan palm, the Nihoa carnation, and Amaranthus brownii are found only on Nihoa.
  • NAR Ahihi-Kinau

    InformationSatellite View
    The pools provide habitat for water, shore, and migratory birds, native herbs and algae. The endangered ae'o or Hawaiian stilt Himantopus mexicanus knudseni forage and nest in at least one of the pool complexes.
  • NC Hawaii Nature Center

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The mission of the Hawaii Nature Center is to foster awareness, appreciation and understanding of Hawaii’s environment and to encourage wise stewardship of the Hawaiian Islands by educating children with an interactive and immersive approach. Located on the islands of Oahu and Maui, the Hawaii Nature Center features programs at various field sites throughout the islands.
  • NPr Mo'omomi

    InformationSatellite View
    Moʻomomi preserve protects some of the very last intact coastal shrublands in Hawaii. The Moʻomomi preserve contains sand dunes, lithified sand formations, rare endemic Hawaiian coastal plant species, nesting seabirds and green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), and the occasional Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi).
  • NPr Waikamoi Preserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    Waikamoi Preserve is an important sanctuary for hundreds of native Hawaiian species. It's high-elevation rain forest and alpine shrubland are home to 12 different native bird species, seven of them endangered, as well as spectacular plants like the blue ʻōpelu, a native lobelia.
  • NPr Wao Kele o Puna

    InformationSatellite View
    It is home to numerous primary and rare plant species including hāpuʻu ferns (Cibotium spp.), ʻieʻie vines (Freycinetia arborea), and kōpiko (Psychotria mariniana), some of which help to limit invasive species' incursions. ʻOpeʻapeʻa (Hawaiian hoary bat, Lasiurus cinereus semotus) ʻio (Hawaiian hawk, Buteo solitarius), common ʻamakihi (Hemignathus virens), and nananana makakiʻi (happy-face spider, Theridion grallator) live in the trees.
  • NWR Hakalau

    WebpageSatellite View
    Hakalau is the only National Wildlife Refuge in the country established for forest birds. Like our Rainforest Birdwatching tour, Hakalau has an incredible density of endemic forest birds…
  • NWR James Campbell

    InformationSatellite View
    James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge on the island of Oʻahu, Hawaii. It was established in 1976 to permanently protect an ecologically-intact unit and to provide habitat for native and migratory fauna and native flora. It established critical habitat for Hawaii's four endangered waterbirds, the ʻalae kea (Hawaiian coot, Fulica alai), koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck, Anas wyvilliana), ʻalae ʻula (Hawaiian gallinule, Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis), and āeʻo (Hawaiian stilt, Himantopus mexicanus knudseni) and many migratory seabirds, endangered and native plant species, and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtle. It also provides increased wildlife-dependent public uses and flood control within the refuge and the local community.
  • NWR Kilauea Point

    WebpageSatellite View
    Kaua'i's three National Wildlife Refuges share a mystical beauty. Discover hundreds of seabirds nesting atop sheer cliffs; enjoy ever-changing views of a valley where taro farming coexists with endangered waterbirds; and explore; and explore Kaua'i's colorful past by visiting the famous Kilauea Point Lighthouse…
  • RP Kawai Nui Marsh

    InformationSatellite View
    Kawai Nui Marsh is the largest wetlands in the Hawaiian Islands. The marsh is located near Kailua on the windward side of O'ahu and is owned by the State of Hawaii and the City & County of Honolulu.
  • SP Hanauma Bay

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Hanauma Bay was declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. Formed within a volcanic cone, today Hanauma Bay offers a pristine marine ecosystem after the City and County of Honolulu laid out a plan in 1990 to restore the “curved bay,” after years of use from the millions of visitors who visit and love to snorkel Hanauma Bay. Voted the Best Beach in the United States for 2016 our volunteers have a booth located on the beach level to help visitors learn about conservation of the reef and the types of fish that live there.
  • SSS Molokini

    InformationSatellite View
    Molokini islet is federally owned and is a state seabird sanctuary. Thus, unauthorized landing is prohibited. The islet is home to at least two species of nesting seabirds — Bulwer's petrels and wedge-tailed shearwaters. Additionally great frigatebirds have been observed on Molokini islet.
  • SWS Kanaha Pond

    InformationSatellite View
    Kanaha Pond was designated a state sanctuary in 1951 and a National Natural Landmark in 1971. The site has hosted numerous vagrant birds, including Gray-tailed Tattler and Belted Kingfisher, as well as Hawaii's first record of Black-tailed Godwit.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • AdventureInHawaii

    Tour Operator
    The Hakalau Birdwatching Adventure takes you on a 4wd Mercedes Sprinter into the heart of a restricted National Wildlife Refuge for Hawaii's best birdwatching. High on the forest slopes of Mauna Kea, you will look for the endangered akiapolaau, omao (Hawaiian thrush), iiwi, apapane, and other endemics. Your interpretive guide is an expert bird tracker. You'll also discover rare native plants and animals, including carniverous caterpillars and happ-faced spiders.
  • Big Island Nature Tours

    Tour Operator
    Spend a day with Nature and Wildlife in Hawaii
  • BirdQuest

    Tour Operator
    Birdquest’s Hawaii birding tours explore these beautiful islands with their largely endangered endemic landbirds (including the Hawaiian Honeycreepers, sometimes considered a distinct family), their interesting seabirds and migrants such as the rare Bristle-thighed Curlew. Our Hawaii birding tour has the most comprehensive itinerary available in the islands and consistently produces a high proportion of the islands’ specialities.
  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    Birding Tour USA: Hawaii – ABA & Endemic Birding in the Pacific
  • Field Guides

    Tour Operator
    On our birding tour we'll visit three of the major islands--Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii--giving us a chance to sample a great portion of the Hawaiian endemic birds and the seabird specialties.
  • Hawaii Bird Tours

    Tour Operator
    Fun & Informative Small Group Birding Adventures in Hawaii & Beyond
  • Hawaii Forest & Trail

    Tour Operator
    Hawaii Forest & Trail takes small groups on guided tours to remote private lands and limited access wildlife refuges on the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaii Forest & Trail takes small groups on guided tours to remote private lands and limited access wildlife refuges on the Big Island of Hawaii. We offer fascinating adventures to seldom-visited areas, providing you with a rare glimpse into the unique ecosystems and remarkable natural history of Hawaii. We are committed to educating visitors and residents about Hawaii's ecology and the conservation of its endangered species.
  • Hawaii Forest & Trail

    Bird Watching Tour at Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge
  • Naturalist Journeys

    Tour Operator
    Group travel is rewarding and fun! With more eyes you see more species. Travel Planners of Naturalist Journeys and Caligo Ventures have been creating memorable journeys for 40+ years. We offer you small-group birding and nature tours, limited to just 8-10 persons led by expert guides. Learn and explore with like-minded people, enjoy local food and culture, and immerse yourself in birding and nature.
  • Oahu Nature Tours

    Tour Operator
    Oahu Nature Tours specializes in personally guided nature adventures for small groups to see Hawaii's unique native bird and plant species. Spectacular views, excellent photographic opportunities and information about Oahu's geology, archaeology, mythology and history await you on our fun and informative adventures.
  • Rockjumper

    Tour Operator
    Hawaii is the most remote archipelago on Earth, located north of the equator in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Aside from the Islands’ world-renowned beauty, many unique features attract naturalists here, chiefly the high degree of endemism among the various life forms, active volcanism, verdant and varied native forests, and the surrounding great wilderness of the Pacific Ocean
  • Wings

    Tour Operator
    It might be the 50th state, but birding Hawai‘i feels like a world away. Without vagrancy, no remote islands would have land birds...
Trip Reports
  • 2015 [09 September] - Lance Tanino - Kona Fall Seabirding Expedition

    In the second hour, we had our first two of four JUAN FERNANDEZ PETRELS (Pterodroma externa) for the day. They will eventually make their way to Chile for their breeding season. We eventually observed two more migratory seabird species in the afternoon. We saw a lone BLACK-WINGED PETREL (Pterodroma nigripennis) as well as a SOOTY SHEARWATER (Puffinus griseus; possibly two).
  • 2016 [01 January] - Lance Tanino - Big Island

    ...We left Pepeekeo at 5:45 A.M. and headed to Hilo to a parking lot where Java Sparrows were recently known to roost, however, on this important morning of our Big Day Big Island, they seemed to have decided to roost elsewhere that night. One of our hotspot locations of the day, Lokowaka Pond, was an amazing way to start our day. We watched over 5000 Cattle Egrets leave their nesting roost in two continuous massive flights, one headed west and south. Our first vagrant of the day was an immature female Belted Kingfisher was spotted across the street from the pond...
  • 2016 [04 April] - Dan Lane & Megan Edwards Crewe

    ...a host of introduced foreigners awaited: dozens of heavy-billed Java Sparrows and bounding swarms of Common Waxbills nibbled grass seeds on the park's ballfields, Red-vented Bulbuls and Red-crested Cardinals sang from treetops, and Saffron Finches rested on baseball backstops, while screaming Rose-ringed Parakeets flew past overhead. It wasn't all exotics though; we had wonderful views of delicate White Terns as they prospected for nest sites on various tree branches, while American Golden-Plovers scampered across the cut lawn...
  • 2017 [04 April] - Dan Lane & Doug Gochfeld

    ...As is the case with most visitors to Hawaii, we started off on Oahu, since the air hub for the island is the Honolulu airport. From our base in Waikiki, we explored a good portion of the island during our full day there, starting off at Kapiolani Park right across the street, and immediately picking up a bunch of established introduced species under a canopy of calling and courting White Terns.....
  • 2017 [09 September] - Lance Tanino - Pelagic

    On the third day of the 2nd annual Hawai'i Island Festival of Birds (#birdfesthawaii), I helped lead 28 participants on a five-hour (8:30 AM - 1:30 PM) pelagic trip from Honokohau Harbor, Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i, USA. This was the second of two pelagic trips of the festival weekend. We spent most of our time west of Keahole Point, up to 20 miles from shore.
  • 2017 [11 November] - Andrew Birch

    ...I searched Pond A extensively and despite seeing 3 or 4 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and the continuing Wilson’s Snipe, I failed to find the long-staying Little Stint. Hawaiian Stilts and Hawaiian Coots were common here and some consolation exotics for my ABA list were in the form of abundant Common Waxbill, Red-crested Cardinals, Red-vented Bulbuls, Red Junglefowl and a single White-rumped Shama along with Zebra and Laughing Doves.
  • 2018 [03 March] - Lance Tanino - Pelagic

    Twelve nature enthusiasts from near (Kona, Mauna Lani, Waimea) and far (O'ahu, Oregon, Texas, Florida) endured eight hours of pelagic birding (frigatebird, terns, noddies, petrels, shearwaters, tropicbirds, boobies) and other wildlife (Spinner Dolphin and Spotted Dolphin pods, gigantic Marlin, Spearfish, Green Turtle).
  • 2018 [04 April] - Lance Tanino - Pelagic

    It was an exciting day on the waters off the coast of Kona. 15 birders from Texas, O'ahu, and the Big Island covered approx. 70.25 miles and were treated to a nice diversity of seabirds (13 sp.) and marine mammals (three sp.).
  • 2018 [06 June] - Lance Tanio - Pelagic

    Eleven birders from near (O'ahu, Kona, Waimea) and far (VA, IN, AK, WA, OR, and CA) had a successful pelagic (8 hours) off the Kona coast. Ocean conditions were excellent (mostly flat, no white caps) under sunny blue skies. We encountered ten species including local endangered breeders - Hawaiian Petrel ('U'au), Newell's Shearwater ('A'o), and Band-rumped Storm-Petrel ('Ake'ake).
  • 2018 [11 Novembwer] - Karen Worcester

    PDF Report
    The diver’s bubbles drift upward, catching the light and making the whole experience even more magical. We drifted for some time in the blackness, watching schooling fish flit below us. It was a party atmosphere above the water, with several dive boats congregated and many people participating.
  • 2019 [05 May] - David Blair

    PDF Report
    Originally we wanted to do a couple of islands but the RTW ticket didn’t cover the internal flights and costs were mounting up, when we added car, amenities tax, etc., so we stuck with just 4 nights in Oahu and we planned to at least try to see a few endemics and see some of the other colourful birds
  • 2019 [09 September] - Wanstead Birder

    There was a Pacific Golden Plover on the path, and several Grey Francolin in the scrub, and on the beach Turnstones and a Red-crested Cardinal foraged. Aimakapa Fishpond had a large number of Hawaiian Stilt, more PGPs, lots of Cattle Egret, two Black-crowned Night Heron and a few Hawaiian Coots, but armed only with a toy lens on this trip I wasn't able to take advantage. Around the pond were lots of tiny Zebra Dove, a Yellow-fronted Canary, but the dominant species of passerine was Common Waxbill. This is basically the story of Hawaii. There was a dead Orangespine Unicornfish on the beach which was rather a shame, but I would see a lot of far better looking ones very soon.
  • 2020 [02 February] - Greg Smith

    PDF Report
    ...The afternoon was a wildlife cruise thru these whale-rich waters. We got to see lots more humpbacks and some rough-toothed dolphins. Both Brown and Red-footed Booby were seen, as well as Black Noddy and Laughing Gull. This was probably our wildlife highlight day of the trip.
  • 2020 [03 March] - Brennan Mulrooney

    PDF Report
    ...tour visited three of the four main Hawaiian islands. We spent time exploring Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii, in that order. Each island had its own distinct character, and each island offered unique birds for us to pursue...
  • 2020 [03 March] - Chris Brown

    Our Spring Hawai’i: Birding the Island Endemics tour (March 1-11, 2020) was a marvelous experience for guides and participants alike. After meeting for dinner and getting acquainted it was off to bed early to try to eliminate jet lag and be ready for an exciting and varied tour of three of Hawaii’s main islands (Oahu, Kauai and Hawai’i).
  • 2022 [02 February] - Jacon Roalef

    PDF Report
    This tour connected with many amazing target birds, including endemic, native, and introduced species, giving us a high-quality list for our ten days in this tropical state. Avian highlights included Akiapolaau, Anianiau, Hawaii Akepa, Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii Amakihi, Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii Elepaios, Laysan Albatross, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Omao, Nene, Iiwi, Apapane, Red-footed Booby, White-tailed and Red-tailed Tropicbirds, Hawaiian Coot, White-rumped Shama, Eurasian Skylark, Java Sparrow, and Grey Francolin. We also managed to score a rarity for the state of Hawaii in the form of a vagrant, Red-billed Tropicbird, giving us the sweep of all the world’s tropicbird species
  • 2022 [04 April] - Dare to Bird

    After this we went to Kahuku Golf Course where we saw 4 Bristle-thighed Curlews. We also saw many Pacific Golden-Plovers. Pacific Golden-Plovers or Kolea are everywhere in Hawaii, including on lawns, driveways and roofs! We also saw 2 Laysan Albatrosses flying over the golf course. We saw many Common Waxbills, Red-crested Cardinals, Red-vented Bulbuls, Spotted and Zebra Doves and other introduced birds like Common Mynas. We were about to leave when we saw a juvenile Glaucous-winged Gull! For us PNW folks it isn't a big deal but in Hawaii, it is very rare. I have seen Bristle-thighed Curlews before on their breeding grounds in Nome, AK but it was a lifer for Ilya. We also got to hear their call and some walked up close for nice photos.
  • 2023 [02 February] - Jacob Roalef

    PDF Report
    Avian highlights included White Tern, Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds, Red-footed and Masked Boobies, Red Avadavat, Laysan Albatross, Black Francolin, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Bristle-thighed Curlew, I‘iwi, ‘Akiapola‘au, ‘Anianiau, ‘Apapane, and an ABA area rarity in the form of Grey-tailed Tattler. We were also successful with the island sweeps of the ‘Amakihi and ‘Elepaio species, plus many others.
Places to Stay
  • Horizon Guesthouse - McCandless Ranch

    You are invited to experience Horizon Guest House, an elegant, exclusive resort situated on over 40 acres of sloping pasture lands (1,100 ft. elevation) on the side of Mauna Loa. We are on the Kona Coast, surrounded by McCandless Ranch, (15,000 acres) ensuring the utmost in privacy and tranquility
  • Volcano Teapot Cottage

    Fall under the spell of this Enchanting Cottage and experience the timeless charm of a turn-of-the-century bungalow located in the heart of Volcano Village on the Big Island of Hawaii and one mile from the entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Other Links
  • Birdwatching on the Big Island of Hawaii.

    Below you will find information about birdwatching, birding, and and bird watching tours on the Big Island of Hawaii. These links are meant to help you find the best locations to bird watch on the island. If you have any additional links or books that you'd like to share, please contact us and we'll add them to the list.
  • Hawaii's Endemic Birds

    The endemic landbirds of Hawaii, particularly the Hawaiian honeycreepers, an endemic subfamily of the cardueline finches, are one of the world's most dramatic examples of adaptive radiation and speciation in island ecosystems
  • Hawai‘i Birding Trails

    The Hawai‘i Birding Trails website is your guide to finding Hawai‘i’s birds. Use the interactive map to explore hotspots along our birding trails and plan your trip with printable checklists. Read all about our many feathered residents in an easy to use search page. New trails are being planned, so check back in to find your next birding adventure.
  • Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project

    Welcome to the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project at! Thank you for for visiting our site. Below is a listing and description of our site's departments. You can use the menu to your left to navigate this site…
  • Bourbon, Bastards and Birds

    The strange and terrible saga of being a birdwatcher… birder stationed on Midway Attol

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

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