Birds on Kauai


Kauai is known as the Garden Isle due to its lush tropical forests, stunning beaches, and abundant wildlife. One of the most notable wildlife attractions on Kauai is the chickens. While Kauai`s chickens have become a part of its local culture, there is a lot more to them than meets the eye. The chickens on Kauai are believed to be descended from the chickens that were brought to the island by Polynesian settlers in the early 1200s. Since then, the chickens have become deeply ingrained in the local culture and are seen as a symbol of the island`s unique heritage.

Kauai`s chickens can be found throughout the island, often seen roaming around in small flocks. These chickens are wild, but rather than being scared of humans, they are known to be quite friendly and social. Many believe that the reason why there are so many chickens on Kauai is because of the island`s abundance of food. Since there is plenty of vegetation and bugs, the chickens have plenty of food available to them and are able to thrive. Additionally, since Kauai has very few natural predators, the chickens are able to survive and breed without the threat of being hunted. Kauai`s chickens are a beloved part of the island`s culture and are a reminder of its unique heritage. Whether you`re a local or a tourist, the chickens are sure to add to your experience of the Garden Isle.


Kauai is home to a variety of birds, including the shearwater. Shearwaters are common along the shorelines of Kauai and Poipu. They can be seen at night when they come ashore to feed on invertebrates. The light on the shoreline helps the birds find their way back to their nests. Shearwaters nest in burrows, often in the sand dunes near the shoreline. They are preyed upon by cats, rats, and other predators. If you find a shearwater, it is important to keep it in a safe environment until it can be released. The Hyatt in Poipu has cages specifically designed to hold shearwaters until they can be released. The cages are designed to keep the birds safe and provide them with a comfortable environment until they can be released back into the wild. Shearwaters are an important part of the Kauai and Poipu ecosystems, and their presence is a reminder of the beauty of the islands. Protecting them is important for the continued health and prosperity of Kauai and its residents.


The Nene (Branta sandvicensis), also known as the Hawaiian goose, is the state bird of Hawaii and is native to the Hawaiian Islands. It is a species of goose that is found nowhere else in the world. The Nene is a medium-sized goose, ranging in length from 24-30 inches and weighing up to 8 pounds. It has a distinctive black head and neck, with light brown feathers on its back, wings, and tail. The Nene is an endangered species, and its population has been reduced to only about 2,500 birds. Its habitats are mostly limited to high-altitude areas on the islands of Kauai and Hawaii. The Nene is a ground-nesting bird, and it feeds on a variety of plants, fruits, and insects. In addition to being hunted for sport, the Nene is threatened by habitat destruction, predation, and disease. Conservation efforts are underway to protect the Nene and ensure its survival.

Pacific Golden Plover

The Pacific Golden Plover, also known as the Kolea in Hawaiian, is a migratory bird that spends its winters on the island of Kauai. These elegant birds have long been cherished by locals and visitors alike for their striking coloration and unique behavior. During the winter months, Pacific Golden Plovers can be found in large numbers on Kauai`s beaches, parks, and golf courses. They are also known to frequent open areas such as fields and grasslands. These birds are easily recognized by their striking plumage, which features a golden brown back and wings, a white belly, and black markings on the head and neck. They also have a long, thin beak that they use to probe the ground for insects and small invertebrates.

One of the most fascinating things about the Pacific Golden Plover is its incredible migratory patterns. These birds breed in the Arctic tundra, with some populations traveling more than 25,000 miles round trip each year to winter in Hawaii. They arrive in Hawaii in late August to early September and depart for their breeding grounds in May. The Kolea has long been an important cultural symbol in Hawaii, with many stories and legends associated with its arrival on the islands. The bird is often seen as a symbol of endurance, strength, and resilience in the face of adversity. While the Pacific Golden Plover is primarily enjoyed through observing them in their natural habitat, there are also opportunities for birdwatching tours and educational programs available on Kauai. Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike can experience the beauty of this magnificent bird while also learning more about its unique behaviors and cultural significance.

Overall, the Pacific Golden Plover is a cherished and important part of the natural and cultural heritage of Kauai. Visitors to the island have the opportunity to witness the beauty of these remarkable birds up close and learn more about their importance to the Hawaiian culture and environment.

Red-Crested Cardinal

The Red-Crested Cardinal is a common bird species found on Kauai. These stunning birds display beautiful plumage and are highly recognizable with their bright red crests atop their heads. Originally native to South America, the Red-Crested Cardinal was introduced to Hawaii in the 1930s and has since thrived on the islands. The birds are known for their beautiful songs, often heard early in the morning and at dusk. Red-Crested Cardinals are typically found in open areas such as parks, golf courses, and residential neighborhoods. They are often seen traveling in pairs or small groups, feeding on seeds, insects, and fruits. One of the most remarkable things about these birds is their striking appearance. The males have a deep red crest on their heads, which contrasts sharply with their black and white plumage. The females have a similarly beautiful appearance, with a red tint to their crests and a more subdued black-and-white pattern. If you`re fortunate enough to spot a Red-Crested Cardinal on Kauai, be sure to take the time to admire its beauty and listen to its melodious song. These birds are a wonderful part of the island`s natural ecology and add to the beauty of Kauai`s stunning landscape.

Common Myna

The Myna, also known as the Common Myna or Indian Myna, is a bird species that is native to Asia and has now been introduced to various parts of the world, including the Hawaiian island of Kauai. These birds are known for their striking appearance and unique vocalizations, making them a popular sight for many birdwatchers on the island. The Myna stands out with its yellow bill, yellow legs, and glossy black feathers marked with white wing patches. They are often seen in small groups, foraging on the ground or perched on branches. They are opportunistic feeders and will eat a wide variety of foods including insects, fruits, and seeds. However, they can also be seen scavenging in urban areas for human food waste.

The Myna is a highly adaptable bird, which has contributed to its success in colonizing new areas. However, this adaptability can also cause problems. In some areas of the world, the introduction of Myna populations has led to the displacement of native bird species as well as the spread of invasive plant species. On Kauai, Mynas are not considered a major threat to the island`s ecosystem. However, their introduction has led to some concern about the impact they may have on the island`s native bird populations. Local conservationists have urged residents and visitors alike not to feed Mynas or leave out pet food, as this can encourage their population growth and spread. Despite these concerns, the Myna remains a fascinating bird to observe on Kauai. With their unique vocalizations and striking appearance, they are a favorite of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts on the island.

Zebra Dove

The Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) is a common bird species found on the island of Kauai. They are native to Southeast Asia and were introduced to the island in the early 1950s. The Zebra Dove is a small bird, typically measuring around 8 inches in length. They are easily identifiable by their distinctive zebra-like pattern on their feathers, which has helped them earn their name. These birds prefer to live in open areas such as gardens, parks, and grasslands. They are seen walking on the ground most of the time and are not very good at flying. They are known for their soft cooing call, which is a common sound heard in the morning and late afternoon.

Zebra Doves feed on a variety of seeds, fruits, and insects. They are often seen pecking at the ground in search of food. They have been known to be attracted to backyard bird feeders as well. Males and females look similar, but males are typically slightly larger and have a more distinct cooing call. They form monogamous pairs and can often be seen sitting side by side or preening each other`s feathers. The Zebra Dove has no real predators on Kauai, which has allowed them to thrive and become a common sight across the island. However, they are still vulnerable to habitat loss through urbanization and other human activities.

Overall, the Zebra Dove is an interesting and beloved species on Kauai, appreciated for its unique appearance and soothing cooing call. Keep an eye out for these cute little birds on your next visit to the Garden Isle!

Japanese White Eye

The Japanese White Eye (Zosterops japonicus) is a beautiful bird species commonly found on the island of Kauai. This tiny green bird with a distinctive white eye-ring was introduced to Hawaii from Japan in the early 1920s. The Japanese White Eye feeds mainly on nectar, fruit, and insects. They are known for their acrobatic flights and can be seen flitting between branches and flowers in search of food. Their diet primarily consists of nectar and fruit from local flowering plants such as hibiscus, Ilima, and Ohia lehua. These birds have even been known to pollinate plants while they are feeding, helping to sustain the island`s ecosystem.

The Japanese White Eye`s unique features and behavior make them a favorite among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. You can easily spot these charming birds around Kauai, particularly in gardens, parks, and forested areas.

One popular spot for observing Japanese White Eyes is the Kauai Botanical Gardens, where you can see these birds flitting amongst the lush gardens. The Japanese White Eye`s sweet song adds to their appeal, and their social behavior is fascinating to observe. They are often seen in small flocks, communicating with a series of high-pitched squeaks and songs. Overall, the Japanese White Eye is a delightful bird species native to the island of Kauai. From their acrobatic flights to their sweet songs, they are a joy to watch and a welcome addition to the island`s rich biodiversity.


Shama birds are a fascinating and unique species that can be found on the island. These small birds are known for their beautiful melodies and striking appearance, making them a popular sight for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Shama birds, also known as the white-rumped shama, originate from Southeast Asia but have been introduced to various parts of the world, including Hawaii. They are approximately 20 cm in length and have a distinct black head and bright orange beak. The males of the species have glossy black plumage with a white rump, while females have more subdued coloring with a light brown back and greyish-white underparts.

One of the most unique features of shama birds is their beautiful and complex songs. These birds are known for their incredible vocal range and can produce a variety of sounds ranging from whistles, trills, and chirps. They are considered one of the best singers in the avian kingdom, and their songs are often used to attract mates and establish territories. On Kauai, shama birds can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, gardens, and parks. They are known to be quite adaptive and can thrive in both natural and urban environments. Despite their invasive status, they have earned a special place in the hearts of many locals and visitors alike, who appreciate their unique songs and striking appearance. However, despite their popularity and abundance, there are concerns about the impact of shama birds on the native bird populations on Kauai.


Albatrosses are majestic birds that can be found on Kauai. These impressive creatures have a wingspan of up to 12 feet and are known for their unique nesting habits, which attract tourists and researchers alike. The most common species of albatross found on Kauai is the Laysan Albatross. These birds mate for life and typically return to the same nesting site year after year. During nesting season, which runs from November to July, thousands of albatrosses can be found on the island`s north shore. One of the best places to view these magnificent birds is the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is home to a massive colony of Laysan Albatrosses, which use the area`s steep cliffs and rocky outcroppings as nesting sites. Visitors to the refuge can observe the albatrosses from a safe distance, using binoculars or a spotting scope. The birds are especially active during the months of February and March when chicks begin hatching.