Bird Watching On Kauai

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.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Cindy Mayer September 21, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Hi. My husband & I are planning a trip to Kauai in December & we are looking for a quality private bird tour guide. Do you provide such a tour & if so, can you supply the details? If you do not, can you please recommend someone who does? Thank you. Cindy


Julie June 21, 2015 at 11:04 pm

I have several feeders which attract hundreds of java sparrows each day! Sometimes I think I have the entire island’s population in my monkeypod tree! They are alive and well!


Steve Fielder May 30, 2015 at 12:18 am

I have a home down in Hanalei, and we used to get swarms of Java sparrows around our backyard bird-feeder.

During my most recent visit, however, not a single Java sparrow showed up at my place to feed during the three weeks I was on the island. Have they migrated to another part of the island or fallen victim to some sort of disease epidemic?


JP June 9, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Aloha Steve,

We checked with our local bird expert at Sounds Hawaiian. David reports that the Java Sparrows are doing fine and thriving on Kauai. They are opportunistic foragers and may have forsaken your feeder for others in the neighborhood. Be sure your feeder is kept loaded and you should see them on your next visit.

Best Wishes,

JP and the Parrish Kauai team


Craig March 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Aloha…a slight correction to finding David. He can be reached at . Mahalo!


Craig March 19, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I must agree that a day spent birding on Kauai with David Kuhn is an experience you will always treasure.
Long time deep commitment to Kauai and her wildlife is foundation of his work.
You can find him at


Joan Wood March 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm


Thank you for the bird watching tip! We had a spectacular day in the Alakai with David Kuhn. He is very knowledgeable and the forest was wonderful. We had a great trip to Kauai and will definitely be back!


Jim Denny January 12, 2011 at 11:32 pm

I also offer my services as an experienced birding guide on Kauai. I am the author of 2 books on the subject: Birds of Kauai (UH Press, 1999) and A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hawaii (UH Press, 2009) as well as two videos: Hawaii Birds and Birds of the Rainforest. Please contact me at for specifics.

Aloha Kakou,


David Batchelder October 23, 2010 at 2:58 pm


You mention experienced bird guides. Do you by chance have a contact list?


David Batchelder


Anne October 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Aloha David,

The best guide we can recommend is David Kuhn who can be reached at His web site is great…check it out at

Have fun!!


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