Hawaii: Spring 2021

Spring 2021: 1 Mar–31 May

 Alex Wang
[email protected]

Jennifer Rothe
[email protected]

Recommended citation:

Wang, A. and J. Rothe. 2021. Spring 2021: Hawaii. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-bdI> North American Birds.

Spring 2021 in Hawaii started off with a bang. Spring storms from the south racked the state, resulting in flash-flooding on multiple islands and culminating in a high point for bird vagrancy. The ABA Area’s first Inca Tern showed up at South Point, Hawaiʻi Island, immediately after the first storm system. Looking heavily worn and ragged, it was lucky to have made it this far north (the next farthest north this species has ever been reported is Guatemala). The rest of the spring remained cooler and wetter than normal. Temperatures and humidity levels at the end of June were still below what would normally be expected by the end of April. This season saw tourism to the islands go from a barely discernible trickle to a veritable flood as COVID-19 travel restrictions relaxed. Guided birding excursions—both pelagic and land-based—resumed, and eBird checklist numbers spiked.

Sub-regional Editors

Jennifer Rothe (Kauaʻi Co), Alex Wang (Hawaiʻi Co)

Geese 

The handful of Snow Geese overwintering in the Hawaiian Islands generally remained on their chosen grounds during the spring season, and most departed by mid-April. The latest reports of Snow Geese on Hawaiʻi Island and Maui were on 10 Apr (Lance Tanino, Julie Harris) and 3 Apr, (Chris Curwen), respectively. Snow Geese on Oʻahu followed a similar schedule: the James Campbell NWR and Royal Kunia Country Club individuals were last reported on 3 Mar (Richard May) and 19 Apr (Kurt Pohlman), though there was a relatively late sighting of two flyby Snow Geese along Oʻahu’s Ka Iwi Coast on 10 May (Walter Oshiro). Kauaʻi’s resident Snow Goose appears to have extended its residency at the Princeville Makai Golf Course for yet another season, as the local favorite named “Aflac” was observed through the end of spring (Hallie Daly, m. ob.). 

Multiple Greater White-fronted Geese continued at their wintering locations. One individual was regularly observed at Waiākea Pond, Wailoa River SP, Hawaiʻi Island through at least 17 May (Robert Hoffman, m. ob.). Oʻahu’s Pearl Harbor NWR hosted a bird until 14 May (Michael Young, m. ob.). The five Midway birds, present around the water catchment area since 6 Dec, were last reported 11 Mar (Jonathan Plissner).

A single Brant present at ʻAimakapā Pond,Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, Hawaiʻi Island since 12 Jan (Caleb Warren, m. ob.) was last observed 18 Apr (Max Chalfin-Jacobs, m. ob.). A one-day wonder Brant was photographed in Kailua on Oʻahu on 16 Mar (Lauren Chamberlain). 

Hawaiʻi Island’s resident Cackling Goose continued at Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant throughout the spring season (Reginald David, Lance Tanino, m. ob.). A second bird was reported on the same island at Wailoa River SP on 29 May (William Johnson). The individual which had frequented Oʻahu’s James Campbell NWR since 23 Dec (Sharon Tolby) continued to be observed periodically at nearby Turtle Bay Golf Course until 26 Apr (Caleb Hancock, Pat Hendrix, Alex Moore, Michael Young). A single Cackling Goose was again reported at the Honouliuli Unit of Pearl Harbor NWR, Oʻahu on 31 Mar (Mandy Talpas, Scott Sneed, Kurt Pohlman). Elsewhere on the island, lone Cackling Geese were also observed at Bellows Air Force Station (14 Apr, Richard Fischer) and Hoakalei Golf Course (19 Apr, Alex Moore & Pat Hendrix). Wailoa River SP on Hawaiʻi Island has had more or less continuous reports of Canada Goose since at least 2011, and spring 2021 was no exception: at least one individual was present throughout the spring season (m. ob.).

Ducks

The Hawaiian Islands’ second Baikal Teal was discovered on Midway Atoll on 11 Feb and continued into the spring season; it was reported regularly until 26 Mar (Jonathan Plissner). On Oʻahu, the hen and drake Blue-winged Teal observed at Pearl Harbor NWR during the winter were again reported at the Waiawa Unit on 29 Mar (Kellen Apuna, Michael Young). A drake Cinnamon Teal was re-sighted at Maui’s Keālia Pond NWR on 14 Apr for the first time since its discovery in Feb  (Mandy Talpas, Linda Allman).

Northern Shovelers continued at their overwintering sites through 21 Mar on Kauaʻi (Jennifer Rothe) and 30 Mar on Oʻahu (Eric VanderWerf, Michael Young), while they were slower to depart the larger eastern islands. On Maui, there were still 30 individuals present on 20 Apr (Louis Kreemer), but this number dwindled to two by 27 Apr (Ellen Perkins, Fraser Perkins). Hawaiʻi Island hit an impressive peak of 94 shovelers counted during a single scope sweep at ʻAimakapā Pond on 8 April (Ron Pozzi). One bird remained in the area until 3 May (James Fox, Rodney Reagor).

The three Eurasian Wigeon overwintering on Midway Atoll were last reported on 26 Mar (Jonathan Plissner). A single bird was at Pearl Harbor NWR on Oʻahu on 13 Apr (Kurt Pohlman, Michael Young), and three drakes observed by Reginald David on 12 Apr constituted the season’s latest sighting on Hawaiʻi Island. The single American Wigeon overwintering on Midway Atoll departed the same day as its Eurasian cousins (26 Mar, Jonathan Plissner). Late dates of American Wigeon for other islands were 6 Mar on Kauaʻi (Jennifer Rothe), 17 Apr on Oʻahu (Caleb Hancock, Kurt Pohlman), 16 Mar on Maui (Eric VanderWerf), and 22 Apr on Hawaiʻi (Gret Dicey).

Late dates for Northern Pintail were 6 Mar on Kauaʻi (Jennifer Rothe), 8 Apr on Oʻahu (Kurt Pohlman), 29 Mar on Maui (Patti Holliday), and 23 Apr on Hawaiʻi (Reginald David). A single Northern Pintail was still present at the brackish seep on Midway Atoll on 8 May (Jonathan Plissner, Island Conservation).

Green-winged Teal were only reported from two islands during the spring season. Up to six individuals were observed simultaneously on Midway Atoll between 1 Mar and 1 Apr, including at least two representatives each of the American and Eurasian subspecies (Jonathan Plissner). On Hawaiʻi Island, Green-winged Teal more or less continued at the same locations they had occupied during winter. They were last reported from Kaloko-Honokōhau NHP on Hawaiʻi on 22 Mar (Peter Rigsbee).

While Ring-necked Ducks were reported only from Hawaiʻi Island in spring, they continued there in strong numbers into April (m. ob.). Notably, one individual remained at Kealakehe WTP as of 28 May, making it one of the latest-ever spring Ring-necked Duck observations for the region (Reginald David).

Two Greater Scaup were reported in the Hawaii Region this spring. One winter bird continued at Lokoea Pond on Oʻahu on 7 Mar (Michael Young). An adult female observed at Hawaiʻi’s Kealakehe WTP on 3 May (Reginald David) is one of the latest-known spring observations of Greater Scaup in the state. Lesser Scaup were observed twice at Midway Atoll during the spring period: on 5 Mar and 18 Mar (Jonathan Plissner). Oʻahu had two reports of Lesser Scaup: three individuals at Pearl Harbor NWR on 21 Mar (Michael Young) followed by an impressive flock of 21 birds at Hoakalei Golf Course the following day (Alex Moore). Another large group of 25 individuals was reported at Maui’s Keālia Pond NWR on 13 Mar (Barbara Beatti). As with other Aythya species, Hawaiʻi Island retained higher numbers of Lesser Scaup for longer, with consistent sightings until 18 Apr (Max Chalfin-Jacobs, m. ob.).

After a stellar winter of Hooded Merganser sightings, with birds being documented on three islands, only the Oʻahu bird was confirmed to have persisted into the spring season. Local birders were treated to watching the first-year male molt into breeding plumage at Heʻeia SP until 10 Apr (Michael Young, Kurt Pohlman). 

A male Gambel’s Quail was photographed at Lānaʻi’s Hulopoʻe Beach Park on 12 May. The species has persisted since its 1958 introduction to the island but is rarely reported, possibly due to competition with (also-introduced) California Quail. A Japanese Quail was reported on 4 May from Puʻu Waʻawaʻa on Hawaiʻi Island (Rodney Reagor, James Fox). Japanese Quail were introduced to several Hawaiian islands in the 1920s and 30s but are infrequently encountered, perhaps due to their inconspicuous nature.

Grebes through Rails

Overwintering Pied-billed Grebes continued at three separate locations on Hawaiʻi Island. The Hōkūliʻa Shoreline Park individual was regularly documented until 8 May (John Lynch, Lance Tanino, Julie Harris, Peter Rigsbee, Susan Bonney). The Punaluʻu Beach bird was reported again on 5 Mar (Marsha Squires). And the Wailoa River SP bird was last reported on 4 May (Sherman Wing, m. ob.), though there have been intermittent year-round reports of Pied-billed Grebe at this location since October 2015.

Mariana Swiftlets were documented on Oʻahu’s ʻAiea Ridge Trail several times in May. A lone individual was seen foraging on 17 May (Michael Young, Johnnie Ramos, Kurt Pohlman), four birds were photographed on 21 May (Michael Young), and two were seen on 27 May (Michael Young). Swiftlets were also purportedly encountered at Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden (13 Apr, Jake Smiley) and Foster Botanical Garden (13 May, Andy N & TK P).

The state’s fourth Sora, first discovered at Hawaiʻi Island’s Kukio Beach on 14 Nov (Lance Tanino), continued to be well-documented and photographed into the spring season (m. ob.). It was last reported on 13 Apr (Naomi Himley).

Shorebirds 

A very late Black-bellied Plover was photographed at Nuʻupia Ponds WMA, Oʻahu, on 31 May (Kellen Apuna). The majority of Pluvialis plovers depart the islands for their breeding grounds by the end of April. While a handful of May records do exist for Black-bellied Plover in the Hawaii Region, this observationpresumably of the same bird which overwintered at this locationis the latest by nearly two weeks. On Hawaiʻi Island, the overwintering Keahole Point bird was well-documented until 14 Apr (Julie Harris, Lance Tanino, m. ob.). The overwintering Semipalmated Plover was refound and photographed at Puʻuhonoua O Hōnaunau National Historic Park on 21 Mar (Alex Wang). 

In the main Hawaiian Islands, Bristle-thighed Curlew is commonly observed overwintering on Hawaiʻi Island, with the last report occurring on 27 May at the Mauna Lani South Golf Course (Peter Rigsbee). At least one individual was on Molokaʻi, at Koheo Wetland, on 27 Apr (Jean Eaton). Bristle-thighed Curlew also commonly overwinters on Oʻahu. The final spring season detection on that island involved a group of seven observed flying out to sea from Laʻie Point on 26 May (Caleb Hancock). On Midway Atoll, the last observation for the species was 17 May (Jonathan Plissner).

While Whimbrel resembles Bristle-thighed Curlew in appearance, it is far less commonly encountered in the Hawaiian Islands. On 11 Apr, a Whimbrel of the American hudsonicus subspecies and sporting a band on its right leg was at Molokaʻi’s Koheo Wetland (Lainie Berry, Alex Wang, Zach Pezzillo). It was documented there daily, always in the company of Bristle-thighed Curlew, until 15 Apr (Lainie Berry, Zach Pezzillo). On Midway Atoll, an unbanded individual was reported on 13 Apr along with speculation that this was the same bird that had accompanied the curlews “over the past year” (Jonathan Plissner). The Whimbrel was photographed a second time on 29 Apr amid a flock of 87 curlews (Jonathan Plissner).

On Hawaiʻi Island, an overwintering Dunlin continued at ʻAimakapā Pond in Kaloko-Honokōhau NHP 5–7 Mar, and again from 19 Mar–2 Apr (Naomi Himley, Timothy O’Leary, Bill Brynteson, Sherman Wing, m. ob.). A Dunlin was observed during that time gap (7–13 Mar) at nearby Kealakehe WTP and was presumably the same bird (Alex Wang, Lainie Berry, Reginald David, Lance Tanino, Hal Michael, Pat Michael).

There were several one-off records of Pectoral Sandpiper on Oʻahu this spring. Two individuals were observed feeding alongside a Sanderling at Pearl Harbor NWR’s Honouliuli Unit on 31 Mar (Kurt Pohlman). A single bird was photographed at nearby Pouhala Marsh on 4 Apr (Lainie Berry). A lone Pectoral Sandpiper was also reported from the Marine Corps base on 29 Apr (Adam Rollins).

On Hawaiʻi Island, three of the five wintering Long-billed Dowitchers were observed at Opaeʻula Pond on 1 Mar (Sherman Wing). The Kona bird continued to hop between Kaloko-Honokōhau NHP and Kealakehe WTP 13–26 Mar (Pat Michael, Hal Michael, Timothy O’Leary, Alex Wang, Mauri Long). On the windward side, a single Long-billed Dowitcher was reported from Haʻena/ Shipman’s Beach on 28 Mar (Andrew Arnold). On Maui, two unidentified dowitchers were reported from Keālia Pond NWR, but it seems likely that these were the same Long-billed Dowitchers continuing from winter (Patricia Campbell). Three Long-billed Dowitchers were reported at the Kahuku Aqua Ponds on Oʻahu on 5 and 16 Mar (Richard May). On Midway Atoll, the pair of Long-billed Dowitchers present at the water catchment area since at least Oct 2020 continued to be documented with regularity 25 Mar–8 May (Jonathan Plissner, Eric VanderWerf, Robby Kohley, Island Conservation).

A continuing Gray-tailed Tattler was well-documented and photographed on Midway Atoll from 13 Apr–15 May (Jonathan Plissner, Robby Kohley, Eric VanderWerf, Island Conservation). A Lesser Yellowlegs was reported from Maui’s Keālia Pond NWR on 6 May (Tara Wheatland). There are few substantiated May records for this species in the main Hawaiian Islands (Pyle Monographs, 2017).

On Kauaʻi, a 10 Apr pelagic operating out of Port Allen encountered a Red Phalarope in the Kaulakahi Channel (Mandy Talpas, Charlie Bostwick, Jason Gregg, Jennifer Rothe, Kurt Ongman, Cody Lane, Hannah Weipert). Lone Red Phalaropes were also photographed on two separate Kona pelagics out of Hawaiʻi Island on 2 and 8 May (Bret Mossman).

Gulls through Ibis

A presumed adult South Polar Skua was photographed on a 27 Apr pelagic trip out of Kona, Hawaiʻi Island (Alvaro Jaramillo, Mandy Talpas, Reginald David, Whitney Mortimer, Mollee Brown, Phil Bartley, Marjorie Powell, Annette Teng, Jim Hargrove, Sonja Raub). A Pomarine Jaeger was encountered and poorly photographed offshore of Niʻihau during the 10 Apr Port Allen, Kauaʻi pelagic (Mandy Talpas, Charlie Bostwick, Jason Gregg, Jennifer Rothe, Kurt Ongman, Cody Lane, Hannah Weipert). A jaeger with a uniformly dark dorsum (suggesting Pomarine or Parasitic) was observed west of Hawaiʻi Island on 28 Apr but was too distant to be identified to species (Alvaro Jaramillo, Mandy Talpas, Reginald David, Richard May, Sam Preer, Sherman Wing, Sonja Raub, Marjorie Powell, Annette Teng, Phil Bartley, Whitney Mortimer). Another unidentified jaeger (judged likely to be a pomarine) was observed harassing boobies offshore of Makapuʻu Point on Oʻahu on 20 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Mollee Brown, Phil Bartley, Whitney Mortimer, Marjorie Powell, Annette Teng, Jim Hargrove, Sonja Raub).

A Black-legged Kittiwake was photographed on Midway Atoll 25 Mar (Jonathan Plissner). While this species has been documented several dozen times in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, nearly two thirds of these records were of dead and dying birds, and the majority occurred in Jan and Feb (Pyle Monographs, 2017). This kittiwake is one of the latest-known live spring occurrences of the species in the Hawaii Region. An individual on Kure Atoll 28 Mar 1967 holds the record (Pyle Monographs, 2017).

Laughing Gulls continued on their wintering grounds. The last Kauaʻi record of the season was on 21 Apr at Kawaiʻele State Waterbird Sanctuary (Clare Smith) and presumably involved the same first-cycle bird which had frequented the west side over the winter. A group of four immature Laughing Gulls observed at Pouhala Marsh on 6 Apr represented the spring’s latest record on Oʻahu (Kurt Pohlman). Up to two Laughing Gulls were reported at Maui’s Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary on 8 May (Dorothy Bedford, Eileen Naaman, Jim Yeskett). On Hawaiʻi Island, Kaloko-Honokōhau NHP had been a hotspot for overwintering Laughing Gulls, with up to eight individuals reported this period (Alex Wang, m. ob.). One individual was still present as of 27 May (Todd Wills). Ring-billed Gull was reported twice this period, both times on Hawaiʻi Island: one was at the Four Seasons Hualālai on 11 Mar (Heidi Regier), and the other was at Kaloko-Honokōhau NHP on 19 Mar (Bill Brynteson).

Gray-backed Terns breed primarily in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, but they are seldom reported from the Main Islands despite the existence of several small colonies on offshore islets. A concerted effort to observe Gray-backed Terns at one such colony (Oʻahu’s Moku Manu) from the north beach of the Marine Corps Base Hawaii on 11 Apr turned up one individual (Kellen Apuna). 

Least Tern observations in the Hawaiian Islands this period replicated locations of past known or suspected breeding attempts. On Midway Atoll, where Least Terns first attempted breeding in 1999 and have maintained annual breeding presence since 2017, two individuals were observed circling the traditional nesting area on 27 Apr (Jonathan Plissner). They were joined by a third and possibly a fourth (Sternula not identified to species) individual on 29 Apr and 8 May, respectively (Jonathan Plissner, Island Conservation). On Oʻahu, a lone Least Tern was reported on 20 and 31 May at James Campbell NWR (Jonathan Plissner, Hallie Daly), a site at which adults and juveniles were observed together as early as 1980 (Pyle Monographs, 2017). One bird was reported on 29 May from the Kahala Hotel on the south shore (April Pejic). There were numerous sightings along the Kona Coast of Hawaiʻi Island. One to two individuals were regularly observed from Keahole Point 19 Mar20 May (Lance Tanino, Julie Harris, Ron Pozzi, Michael Bankoff, Meagan Chambers). One bird was also reported along the coast slightly farther south, at Kohanaiki Beach Park, on 19 May (John Lynch). One vocalizing adult was seen flying above the main pond at Kaloko-Honokōhau NHP on 9 Apr (Reginald David). The first adult of the season appeared 12 Mar at Kealakehe WTP (Reginald David), where Least Terns were first confirmed breeding in 2012 (Pyle Monographs, 2017). One to three individuals were sporadically reported at this location through 24 May, and a bird seen carrying a fish on 5 May likely indicated that breeding occurred again (Reginald David, Peter Rigsbee, Alex Wang).

The long-time wintering returnee Caspian Tern was seen at Nuʻupia Ponds WMA on Oʻahu until 11 Mar, by which point it was in alternate plumage (Kurt Pohlman). Spring migrant Common Terns were seen on Oʻahu and Molokaʻi. One Common Tern on Oʻahu, presumably the same individual, was seen moving from Honouliuli unit of Pearl Harbor NWR to Pouhala Marsh on the other end of Pearl Harbor’s west loch 123 Mar (Kurt Pohlman, m. ob.) The 12 Apr Molokaʻi bird was a one-day wonder at Koheo Wetland (Lainie Berry, Zach Pezzillo). One to three Arctic Terns were seen off the Kona coast of Hawaiʻi Island (Alvaro Jaramillo, Mandy Talpas, m. ob.) from 27–30 Apr in successive daily pelagics.

An Inca Tern at South Point, Hawaiʻi Island, was the first Hawaiian and ABA record for this South American species. It showed up on 10 Mar in the wake of a bout of southern storms that led to flash flooding on multiple islands. First noticed as an oddity by a local fisherman (JJ Balucan), it was not identified until 12 Mar (Mary Spears). Heavily worn, this bird became a resident of South Point for the rest of the spring quarter, fishing off the sea cliffs to the delight of many.

A Red-billed Tropicbird continued on the Ka Iwi Coast of Oʻahu from winter until 19 May (Walter Oshiro). Rare for Hawaiʻi Co, a Laysan Albatross was photographed off Kona on 8 May (Alex Wang). While Laysan Albatross are established and breeding on Oʻahu, two locally uncommon Black-footed Albatross were seen at Ka’ena Point Natural Area Reserve 13 Mar30 Apr, which is a promising sign of future breeding to come (Abby Darah, Breck Tyler). The season’s only reports of Leach’s Storm-Petrel in the Hawaii Region originated offshore of Hawaiʻi Island’s Kona coast, but the species exhibited a strong showing there. Multiple pelagics between 27 Apr and 5 May encountered at least one individual (Lance Tanino, Alvaro Jaramillo, Bret Mossman, Alex Wang, m. ob.), with a high count of eight reported on 28 Apr (Alvaro Jaramillo, Mandy Talpas, Reginald David, Richard May, Sam Preer, Sherman Wing, Phil Bartley, Annette Teng, Marjorie Powell, Sonja Raub).

Kermadec Petrel, named for the islands north of New Zealand on which it breeds, returned to the north shore of Kauaʻi for the eleventh year in a row. Four birdsone light morph and three darkwere observed at Kīlauea Point NWR on 12 May (Eric VanderWerf, Hallie Daly), followed by one at Crater Hill on 17 May (Kurt Ongman), and three were at Nihoku on 24 May (Hallie Daly). These birds have been observed on the ground in the area, but breeding has never been confirmed.

Mottled Petrel was seen in moderate numbers in April off Kona, Hawaiʻi Island. One was seen on a 3 Apr pelagic (Mandy Talpas), two on 27 Apr (Alvaro Jaramillo, Mandy Talpas), and one on 28 Apr (Alvaro Jaramillo). A Juan Fernández Petrel and a White-necked Petrel were both seen on a Kona pelagic, Hawaiʻi Island on 7 May (Mandy Talpas), but overall numbers of this Pterodroma species complex were low in Hawaiʻi this spring relative to the last five years. A Black-winged Petrel was sighted from Keahole Point, Hawaiʻi Island 19 May (Lance Tanino). A Cook’s Petrel was photographed off Kona, Hawaiʻi 1 May (Bret Mossman). A Buller’s Shearwater was seen on a Kona pelagic 3 Apr (Mandy Talpas). Continuing the trend of their relative abundance from this winter, two Christmas Shearwaters were reported in Hawaiʻi Co this spring: one from a seawatch 17 Mar (Lance Tanino) and one from a 3 Apr pelagic (Mandy Talpas). “Brewster’s” Brown Booby—the pale-headed, rarer subspecies in the Hawaiian Islands—was reported at two locations this spring: one individual at Keahole Point on Hawaiʻi Island on 24 Mar (Lance Tanino, Julie Harris) and one male and two females on Oʻahu’s Moku Manu on 31 May (Eric VanderWerf).

The state’s sixth Great Egret, first reported in Jan, was observed regularly at Pearl Harbor NWR on Oʻahu and was still present at the close of the spring period (Michael Young, Kurt Polhman, m. ob.). An impressive 128 Black-crowned Night Herons (of the native subspecies) were at Kealekehe WTP, Hawaiʻi Island, on 19 Apr (Reginald David). This is the highest-known total ever reported at a single location in the region. At Nakatani watercress farm on Oʻahu, the three White-faced Ibis reported over the winter continued through 30 Mar, and the last sighting (of a single bird) was on 6 Apr (Kurt Pohlman). On Maui, four White-faced Ibis were observed, first at Keālia Pond NWR on 10 Mar (Daniel McGregor) and later at Kanahā Pond SWS on 14 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Linda Allman).Two overwintering White-faced Ibis continued at Hōkūliʻa Shoreline Park on Hawaiʻi Island until 29 Mar (Rebecca Dewhirst, John Lynch, Gret Dicey, Lainie Berry, Susan Bobbey, Peter Rigsbee, m. ob.), after which point a single ibis was observed until 10 Apr (Reginald David, Lance Tanino, Julie Harris). 

Raptors through Passerines

An Ospreylikely the same individual from winterwas observed several times 325 Mar at Lokowaka Pond on Hawaiʻi Island (Cindy Granholm, Zac Fait, Gret Dicey). A brown-plumaged Northern Harrier was seen cruising low over the agricultural fields along Kiko Road on westside Kauaʻi on 27 Mar (Jennifer Rothe, Hob Osterlund). There was also a putative sighting on 6 Mar of a bird soaring above a residential neighborhood in Kalaheo (Bobby Brittingham). A female Northern Harrierfirst reported on Midway Atoll on 5 Oct 2020 (S. Pluskat)was observed being mobbed by hundreds of White Terns on 1 and 17 Mar (Jonathan Plissner). 

A Peregrine Falcon, present on Midway since Nov 2020, was also observed being mobbed by terns on 7 Mar (Jonathan Plissner). The Kauaʻi Peregrine Falcon, first detected on the north shore in winter, was observed several times near the mountainous island center and once above the Iliau Loop Trail between 23 Apr and 8 May (Claire Smith, Kurt Ongman, Bow Tyler, Tyler Winter, Melissa Simon, Clairice Drexler). On Oʻahu, the juvenile male “Peale’s” Peregrine Falcon continued its reign of the Waikiki skies. First sighted on the morning of 23 Nov 2020, it has been well-documented hunting White Terns throughout its residency which, at 189 days (given its continued presence as of 31 May) (Michael Walther), is one of the longest ever documented for the species in the Hawaiian Islands.

White-rumped Shama, an Asian species introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in the 1930s, is well-established on Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, and Lānaʻi. However, its expansion to Maui is a recent phenomenon. Sightings tend to be clustered on the western lobe of the island. Up to two individuals were reported from Honolua Bay between 5 Mar and 15 April (Daniel McGregor, B Scott Satterfield, Jon Curd, Kenny Frisch, Whitney Mortimer). A male was photographed on 2 May uphill of the Kapalua golf course (Barbara Reed). One singing male was reported on the Waiheʻe Ridge Trail on 4 Mar (Aalap Chikhalikar). A total of at least three separate males were encountered along the same trail on 31 May (Jennifer Rothe, Stephen Rossiter, Zach Pezzillo, Erin Johnson). There have been several reports of White-rumped Shama from the Waiheʻe Coastal Dunes area, with three individuals on 16 May (Eliot Carter) and at least two individuals confirmed on 29 May (Jennifer Rothe, Stephen Rossiter). The spread of this invasive species across the entirety of Maui seems inevitable.

Likewise, Chestnut Munia may be expanding its range on Hawaiʻi Island. Though dense populations exist on most of the main Hawaiian Islands, previous sightings on Hawaiʻi Island have almost exclusively clustered around the coastal open fields of Pepeʻekeo. Two individuals were reported above 1300 feet in elevation on 23 May (Sunny Seal), suggesting a possible uphill range expansion.

In contrast, the critically endangered ʻAkikiki continued to decline on the island of Kauaʻi. Observations in the core of its range in the middle of the Alakaʻi Wilderness Preserve have dipped precipitously over the past few years. In 2019, there were 24 monitored pairs, but by 2020 the tally dropped to only 13 pairs. While alarming, initially it was hoped that this decline could be attributed to reduced staffing as a result of the pandemic. However, in spring 2021 only two pairs were observed despite a full crew. It is estimated that the global population of ʻAkikiki was around 115 individuals as of the end of the 2021 breeding season (Justin Hite, pers. comm.).

Continuing since 6 Feb 2021, a new apparently resident Great-tailed Grackle was consistently reported on Kapiolani Boulevard in Honolulu, Oʻahu (Kurt Pohlman, Caleb Hancock, Michael Young, Walter Oshiro). While common on most of the main Hawaiian Islands, Red-crested Cardinal is not well-established on Hawaiʻi Island. The species was reported from only a single location, Mahukona Beach Park, this spring, though sightings of one to three individuals were regular throughout the entirety of the season (Lance Tanino, Rebecca Dewhirst, John Lynch, Julie Harris, Reginald David, Steve B, Naomi Himley, James Fox, Rodney Reagor, Larry Marsh, Patty Marsh, Garry Dean).

Report processed by Michael L. P. Retter, 17 Aug 2021.

Photos–Hawaii: Spring 2021

Click image to view fullscreen with caption.