The island of Kauai is home to a wide variety of endemic (natural to a specific place), indigenous (native to a particular region including Kauai), migratory, and introduced birds. More than 80 species of birds are present on our Garden Island. Whether a casual or expert bird-watcher, you are certain to find Kauai a captivating bird-watching experience.
Most of the native forest birds are only found above 3,000 feet of elevation within the native forest habitats of Kokee State Park and the Alakai Wilderness. Apapane, I’iwi, Kauai Amakihi, Anianiau, Elepaio and the Endangered Species–Akikiki, Akeke’e, and Puaiohi. The Pihea and Alakai Swamp trails in Kokee and the Alakai remain the best trails on Kauai to see the ‘I’iwi and other of our endemic native forest birds. The Puaiohi is a difficult bird to view unless you hike deep into the Alakai Swamp. There are experienced bird guides available to assist in finding the native forest birds if you wish.
Searching for native flora and fauna in the forest once meant trudging through mud in chilling wind and rain. The rain and wind can still be there, but the construction of a boardwalk by the Department of Land and Natural Resources along the Pihea and the Alakai Swamp trails makes the search a much more pleasant experience.
Hawaii’s State bird, the once endangered Nene (Hawaiian Goose), has become well established on Kauai. It can be seen regularly at the lagoons at the Marriott Hotel in Lihue, near Poipu, and at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Kilauea Point is also the best place to view seabirds such as Red-footed Boobies, Great Frigatebirds, Red-tailed Tropicbirds, and Laysan Albatross. Most bookstores and the gift shops including the Kokee Museum and Kilauea Point Refuge carry excellent bird guides and CD’s with the sounds of the birds of Kauai.
Four Kauai indigenous waterbirds, the Hawaiian Duck (Koloa), Hawaiian Moorhen, Hawaiian Coot, and Black-necked Stilt can be seen at the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge on the north side of the island.
For the visiting casual birdwatcher, Kauai has many introduced songbirds from various parts of the world which are found in the island’s lowlands and also in the upland forests. Some examples are the Common Mynah, Northern Cardinal, Japanese White-eye, Melodious Laughing Thrush or Hwamei, Shama and many others. The sweet-sounding song of the Shama is a lovely treat to all when walking during a quiet morning or evening almost anywhere on Kauai.
Whether you are an expert birdwatcher with a “life list” or someone who just enjoys birds, Kauai offers a fascinating array of birds and their sounds in an equally extraordinary setting.