Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bulletin 182 - Kauai #2 - endemics and others

The endemic forest birds of Kauai are among the most endangered of any on the Hawaiian Islands. 3 or 4 species have gone extinct since 1990. Most of the rest are expected to disappear by 2020, so if one wants to see them, one needs to plan in the next few years.

Lisa, Seth and I hired local guide Jim Denny to take us to find the endemic forest birds.

The Iiwi is almost never seen in Kauai any more. The larger of the 2 native thrushes (Kamao) of Kauai went extinct after the hurricanes in the 90s hit Kauai. The smaller one (Puaiohi) may still be present in small numbers in the wild, but it is being raised in captivity. We didn't see any of these on the trip.

The Kauai Amakihi (Hemignathus kauaiensis) is the largest of the 3 species of Amakihi in Hawaii. It is yellow-green with curved bill and black mask. We just saw a couple of them.

Kauai Amakihi
The smallest (4") of all the Hawaiian honeycreepers is the Anianiau (Hemignathus parvus). I have a problem with pronouncing the names of the birds as written. It is good to go with a guide who knows how to pronounce them. This is pronounced ani-ani-ow. The male is bright yellow and the female is duller. We saw 2 or 3 of them, but managed only a couple of photos.

Another very rare honeycreeper the Akekee put in a brief appearance while I was photographing the Anianiau above. The guide saw it, but none of the rest of us saw the bird as we were focused on the Anianiau.

The most common of the endemics was the Kauai Elepaio (Chasiempis sclateri). We saw a number of these and had good photo opportunities as they were not concerned with our presence. The aduts are mostly gray with a brown wash on the throat, and are the plainest of the 3 species. It belongs to the Monarch Flycatcher family. The cocked up tail is the most distinguishing feature.

Kauai Elepaio - adult

The juvenile however, is a very bright red brown.

Kauai Elepaio - juvenile
And another of a bird right over my head.

Kauai Elepaio - juvenile

After struggling for more than 15 years to see a Nene (Branta sandvicensis) on Hawaii or Maui, they are all over the place on Kauai. The reason for this is there are no mongoose on the island to raid the nests. As on the other islands, they are almost all banded.

There are a number of introduced birds on Kauai as on the other islands. The new ones we saw include the Red-crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata). The adults have a red head and crest, dark gray back and white underparts. They are native to South America.

Red-crested Cardinal - adult
The juveniles have an orange-brown head and crest.

Red-crested Cardinal - juvenile

The other was the White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus). This large (10") songbird is native to Malaysia and was introduced to Kauai in 1931. The male is black above, orange below and has a long tail.

White-rumped Shama - male
The female is gray above rather than black.

White-rumped Shama - female
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2013 David McDonald

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