Kaua‘i’s deep valleys, soaring mountain peaks, and lush native forests peaks are the perfect habitat for a variety of exotic birds (and bird enthusiasts). From the craggy coast of the Na Pali, the swamps and marshes of Waimea, and the deep jungles and river valleys of Wailua, there are several picture perfect and accessible destinations for premium Kauai bird watching.
Kauai Bird Watching: A Rare Bird Indeed
The Hawaiian archipelago has a high number of species that live here and nowhere else (known as endemic species), making birding one of the best Kauai Hawaii things to do. Thanks to its high regional diversity and isolated location, Kaua‘i is also home to several species of indigenous, migratory, and introduced species as well. The native species are most commonly found at elevation in native forests. Koke`e State Park, located above Waimea Canyon, offers prime viewing areas for native honeycreepers (known in Hawaiian as `Apapane, I`iwi, `Anianiau, and `Amakihi) monarch flycatchers (`elepaio) along the ridge hikes overlooking the scenic Na Pali Coast. Within Waimea Canyon, the Alaka`i Swamp is criss-crossed by boardwalks and hiking trails and offers viewing opportunities for these same species as well as the Kaua‘i Creeper and Kaua‘i Thrush (puaiohi). The Hawaiian short-eared owl (pueo) can also be seen in the dry shrub and forest areas along the rim of the crater. Unlike its barn owl relatives, the pueo is more active during the daytime, so it is commonly spotted by visitors to the park.
Kilauea Point, which features a historic lighthouse and incredible panoramic views of the northern coast as well as other Kauai Hawaii things to do, is home to a wildlife refuge that is a prominent nesting ground for seabirds such as red-footed boobies, great frigate birds, red-tailed tropic birds, Laysan albatross, and a variety of terns and shearwaters. The Hawaiian goose (nene) – the state bird – is also commonly seen on the grounds of the preserve, often with young goslings in tow.
On the eastern shore, the lush forests on the banks of the Wailua River provide the perfect shelter for several of Hawai‘i’s endemic water fowl species. Explore the river by self-guided kayak tours or on organized Kauai bird watching tours, or simply take a drive to Kuahua Arboretum. Along the way you are sure to see Koloa (Hawaiian duck), `alae `ula (Hawaiian gallinule or moorhen), and the Japanese bush warbler. These species can also be prominently found in the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge above Hanalei town. These idyllic wetlands, the site of ancient taro fields, serve as a scenic nature preserve to four species of endemic Hawaiian water fowl.