Monday, January 14, 2013

Bulletin 167 - other Maui birds

One of the Hawaiian birds that has been a nemesis bird for me, is the Nene or Hawaiian Goose. The best spot to see the bird is in Haleakala National Park on the summit of the volcano. I had been to Maui previously and missed it on at least 2 occasions. Finally, on my second drive up the mountain I found it just as I was leaving.

The Nene (Branta sandvicensis) is a medium sized brown goose with black head and face and a beige neck with deep dark furrows giving a striped appearance. They are endangered but captive breeding programs have enabled them to be released back into the wild. This population on the volcano in Maui has retreated to the higher elevations (6000-8500') to avoid predation from the introduced mongoose. This bird is banded as can been seen so was probably a released bird. They are often seen along the road, eating the lush green grass along the shoulder of the road. The Nene is the state bird of Hawaii.

The Hawaiian Duck (Anas wyvilliana) is also known as the Koloa. They look like female Mallards, and are usually are found in pairs. I found this pair at the Kaelia Ponds. It was a lifer for me.

Hawaiian Duck
An unusual find at the Kaelia Ponds was a pair of White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi). This wader from the USA and western Mexico must have been blown over in a storm. I was lucky to see such an unusual bird in Maui. Of course it is a local bird here in the Houston area.

White-faced Ibis - Kaelia Ponds Maui
As oceanic islands, Hawaii has a number of seabirds. Surprisingly, there are no gulls except an occasional North American gull that arrives in a storm. However, they do have a number of oceanic seabirds and many species nest in the chain of islands. I found a number of these birds on offshore rocks along the coast on the famous 'road to Hana'. All 3 were lifers for me.

The first was the Black Noddy (Anous minutus). The local name is Noio. Noddies are closely related to terns. This charcoal bird has a white top of head. The race on the main islands has orange legs, while the others have black legs. This species occurs rarely in the Florida Keys in the ABA area.

Black Noddy
The local race of frigatebirds is the Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor). The local name is Iwa. These long-winged slender black birds harass other seabirds to release their catch, which the frigatebird then swoops down and seizes. They are black with the male having a red throat patch. Females have white breasts and the immatures have white heads and breasts. They also have deeply forked tails. Here is a female.

Great Frigatebird - female
The last seabird I managed to photograph was a Red-footed Booby (Sula sula). This is a juvenile with some brown streaking on the body.

Red-footed Booby - immature
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2012 David McDonald

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