Wow it has been a great week in Kaua’i. We have seen many bird species on our travels around the island. While there are many species on the island, many of the native birds are threatened or endangered due to loss of habitat, new introduced species and climate change. Our goal while here was to see as many as we possibly could. Many on our list are not expected to survive beyond 2060.
One great find today was on our visit to the Kawai-ele Sand MIne Bird Sanctuary on the western side of the park. Now a wetland wildlife conservation area designed as a habitat for these threatened birds, we were delighted to find and check off a few on our list. One in particular that we found is the Hawaiian Stilt or ae’o. Related to the black-necked stilt that you would find in North America, it has some distinguishing characteristics. Notably a longer beak and tail are longer. The Hawaiian species also has the longest legs of any bird relative to its size.
At first, the stilts were pretty standoff-ish. Often, a male would fly around us and kip-kip-kip to alert the others to our presence. The trick is to be still and allow them to get used to us being around. After 20 minutes, the birds settled down and went about there business of dancing around looking for fish and invertebrates in the water. It was at that point we start to make our way in to the wetland to position ourselves for the best possible wind and light to photograph the birds. As the light fell, we got that great evening light. My favorite is when you notice their red eyes that catch the light.