According to the American Bird Conservancy, of the once 142 endemic birds to Hawaii, there remain only 44. Of those 44, 33 are listed as endangered, and of those 33, 10 have not been seen in years and are also thought to be extinct. That’s the bad news. In the spirit of keeping things positive, here are five birds, depending on where you visit, you are likely to encounter in your travels around Maui, including one of the endangered birds.
Black Crowned Night Heron
With its stocky body, short legs and hunched over appearance, the black crowned night heron somewhat resembles a penguin when standing still. They usually grown between 20 – 28 inches and roost primarily in marshes and wetlands. They eat pretty much anything that can be found in or around the water, including insects, fish, mice, frogs, smaller birds and garbage. If you’d like to see one on Maui, we recommend the Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary in Kahului (near the airport) and the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge in Kihei.
Cattle egrets can now be found around most parts of Maui, but they primarily locate at ranches, golf courses and near water. They mostly feed on insects, but we’ve seen them swallow down frogs and large quantities of geckos. Standing tall on two skinny legs, the birds will often share sidewalks with people. Cattle egrets were brought to Hawaii by ranchers and the Hawaiian Board of Agriculture and Forestry due to their symbiotic relationship with cattle. An Australian study showed that the egrets reduce the number of flies that irritate cows by eating them directly off of their bodies.
There are many different types of feral lovebirds on Maui. But the ones we see most often are rosy-faced lovebirds. They tend to be primarily green with a blue derriere and pink face and throat. They are very social… and noisy. As the Maui News noted, Maui residents have a love-hate relationship with lovebirds. On the one hand, they are very pretty and nice to look at. They just sort of make you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise, if that makes sense. The chirping, which again, lends you a sense of place is nice, but it can definitely get annoying. They also tend to eat the fruit from trees and may even bore into people’s homes.
So lovebirds like to chatter. But, you know that bird that wakes you up every morning? It’s probably a myna bird (or a rooster, but that’s for another discussion). The myna bird can be found in trees all over Maui. Though quite nice to look at it with their solid black heads, gold-rimmed eyes and bright yellow beak and legs, the myna actually has a negative impact on biodiversity, agriculture and human interests. They are so naughty, in fact, Australia named the myna its most important pest/problem and goes by the nickname of “flying rats.” On the cute side of ledger, myna birds will mate for life with a single partner.
The state bird of Hawaii, the nene grows to about 16 inches in height and spend most of their time on the ground. In fact, some are born without the ability to fly. Though the birds once thrived on Maui, they became extinct here in the 1890s. In fact, the total number of nene dwindled to 30 in all of the Hawaiian islands in the 1950s. The nene now finds itself on the endangered species list. Due to conservation efforts, though, there are now roughly 2,500 nene spread throughout Hawaii, mainly on the Big Island, Kauai and Maui. On Maui, you can regularly see them on Haleakala.
What are your favorite birds on Maui? Let us know in the comments below…