Hawaii: Spring 2022

Spring 2022: 1 Mar–31 May

Alex Wang

Jennifer Rothe

Recommended citation:

Wang, A and J. Rothe. 2022. Spring 2022: Hawaii. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-ebq> North American Birds.

While spring in the Hawaii Region largely lacks the blatant climactic cues experienced elsewhere in much of the ABA area, there are nonetheless subtle indicators of seasonal shift present in the islands. The vernal season generally marks the transition from rainy winter weather to drier days; however, this spring was unusually dry, with drought conditions present on multiple islands. Still, shorebirds and seabirds transited through Hawaiian waters and over-wintering ducks similarly dispersed to their northern breeding territories. While the COVID-19 pandemic raged onwards, with occasional upticks in case numbers, overall visitor numbers to the islands were on par with pre-pandemic levels, which allowed a healthy number of birding tours and Kona pelagics to search for rarities.

Sub-regional Compilers
Jennifer Rothe (Kauaʻi Co), Alex Wang (Hawaiʻi Co).


Three of Hawaii’s wintering Snow Geese lingered into the spring season: the Waikōloa Bay bird on Hawaiʻi Island was last seen 23 Apr (James Fox, Rodney Reagor), and Oʻahu’s pair was last reported together at Kahuku Golf Course on 5 Mar (Phil Chaon, Keelin Miller, Mark O’Keefe), followed by a sighting of only one individual on 23 Mar (Josh Beck). Kauaʻi locals and visiting birders alike delighted at the continued presence of “Aflac,” the Snow Goose which first took up residence at the Princeville Makai Golf Course in 2018 and never left (m. ob.). Midway Atoll’s Brant (subsp. nigricans), encountered several times over the winter, was reported one final time on 18 Mar (D. Ruthrauff). Oʻahu’s wintering Brant exhibited a similar apparent departure date: it was last seen at Nuʻupia Ponds on 12 Mar (Kellen Apuna). Interestingly, in contrast to Maui’s dearth of winter Brant reports, in spring Keālia Pond NWR hosted a well-documented Brant from 1 Mar–17 May (Jeff Zuckerman, m. ob.).

Following suit from the previous autumn and winter seasons, Kauaʻi proved to be an ongoing hotspot of Cackling Goose activity this season. One to three individuals continued at the Princeville Makai Golf Course 14 Mar–5 May (m. ob.), and one bird was observed at nearby Kīlauea Point NWR 12 Apr (David Hanna). Two reports also originated from farther afield, on the west side of the island: single birds were seen at Kawaiʻele State Waterbird Sanctuary on 3 Apr (Jen Rothe, Stephen Rossiter) and flying over the highway near the shrimp ponds on 22 Apr (Adrian Burke). On Oʻahu, one Cackling Goose was seen at Pearl Harbor NWR on 27 May (Clemens Mayer). Hawaiʻi Island’s Cackling Goose, resident at the Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant since 2012, continued throughout the spring season (m. ob.). While none of the winter’s impressive collection of five Cackling Geese were confirmed in Hilo this quarter, it is possible that the two Canada Geese reported flying over the area on 2 Apr may have instead been cacklers (Sarrah Reshamwala).

Ducks through Grebes

Blue-winged Teal continued at their respective wintering locations: one bird was observed at Oʻahu’s Pearl Harbor NWR 4 Apr (Kurt Pohlman), the drake at Maui’s Keālia NWR was joined by a hen 20–29 Mar (Kean Oh, Steve Myers, Amy Myers, Vince Kloster, Nathan Goldberg, Owen Deutsch), and Hawaiʻi Island’s hen continued at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park 3–25 Mar (Alex Wang, Richard May) and at nearby Kealakehe WTP 27 Mar–16 Apr (Richard May, Reginald David, Cheshta Buckley). The male Gadwall, discovered at Kealakehe WTP in Dec, was regularly documented there until 28 Mar (Steve Kornfeld, m. ob.).

On Oʻahu, a Green-winged Teal was reported from Kahuku Golf Course on 5 Mar (Phil Chaon, Keelin Miller, Mark O’Keefe) and up to four individuals were observed at Pearl Harbor NWR 4–29 Mar (Kurt Pohlman, Kellen Apuna). Maui had reports of single birds at Keālia NWR on 1 Apr (Josh Beck) and at Kanahā Pond Wildlife Sanctuary on 18 Apr (Alexander McDonell). Likewise, Hawaiʻi Island had reports of a single teal, at Kealakehe WTP on 26 Mar (Allan Robbins) and 28 Mar (Steve Kornfeld). Midway Atoll’s overwintering drake “Common/ Eurasian” Green-winged Teal continued to be documented at the seep 23 Mar–30 Apr (Jonathan Plissner, Percy Ulsamer, Bob Toleno).

Broadly speaking, Ring-necked Duck continued at its overwintering locations in the region: Maui’s Keālia NWR bird was encountered again on 7 Mar (Elizabeth Walker), while on Hawaiʻi Island, Hilo’s bird was seen at Lokowaka Pond 1 Apr (Nicholas Pederson), and the female at Kealakehe WTP continued 3 Mar–10 May (m. ob.). An additional individual was observed at a new location elsewhere on the island, at Waikōloa Beach Marriott Resort 13 Mar (Scott Merrill). Oddly, despite an impressive winter gathering of Ring-necked Ducks at James Campbell NWR, Oʻahu’s only spring report came from Kūhiō Beach Park at Waikiki on 2 Apr (Rack Cross). The male Greater Scaup wintering at Pearl Harbor NWR on Oʻahu was last observed on 4 Mar (Michael Young.)

Wailoa River SP on Hawaiʻi Island has been a reliable place to find Pied-billed Grebe almost continuously since 2015, and an individual was documented there this spring 3 Mar–26 Apr (Brennan Mulrooney, Tom Wilberding, Jack Lehman, Sarrah Reshamwala, Sherman Wing). A bird was also reported 12 Mar–21 Apr at Hōkūliʻa Shoreline Park, a location which has seen an uptick in grebe presence over the past two years (Rebecca Dewhirst, John Lynch Susan Bonney, Ken Oeser).

Doves through Calidris Sandpipers

While well-established on many of the Main Hawaiian Islands, Mourning Dove is still a notable sighting on Kauaʻi. A single bird was reported near Hoʻopiʻi Falls on the eastern side of the island on 6 Mar (Hannah Landwerlen, Evan Griffis).

Black-bellied Plover continued from winter at Keāhole Point on Hawaiʻi Island until 16 Mar (Sherman Wing, Steve Hodges, Lance Tanino). On Molokaʻi, one Black-bellied Plover was seen at Koheo Wetland on 7 Mar (Jean Eaton). Sightings of a single bird also occurred 6 Mar (Kellen Apuna) and 30 Apr (Mario Farr) at Oʻahu’s Nuʻupia Ponds WMA. This individual was in the company of a second on 22 May (Kellen Apuna). Midway Atoll also hosted a Black-bellied Plover 15 Mar–17 Apr (Bob Toleno, Percy Ulsamer, Jonathan Plissner).

Semipalmated Plover was reported without comment from Princeville Makai Golf Course on Kauaʻi on 31 Mar (Rafael Guzman). On Hawaiʻi Island, two Semipalmated Plovers were observed on 4 May feeding together along the banks of Opaeʻula Pond (Ron Pozzi), but the real hotspot for the species continued to be Maui’s Keālia Pond, from which reports of up to four individuals flowed in regularly until 15 Apr (m. ob.).

Uncommon on Kauaʻi, a single Bristle-thighed Curlew was observed at Mokolea Point on the north shore on 16 May (Eric VanderWerf). On Molokaʻi, a banded Whimbrel was photographed on 15 Apr at Duke Maliu Regional Park (Mark Burns), the same area at which a banded individual has been observed off and on since 2016.

A Ruff associated with a Ruddy Turnstone flock 25–30 Mar at Ford Island, Oʻahu (Kellen Apuna, Steve Myers, Amy Myers, Kurt Pohlman, Paul Rodriguez, Richard May, Peter Donaldson). Two Dunlin were photographed at Molokaʻi’s Koheo Wetland 21 Mar (Lainie Berry), and one was later reported from Keālia Pond NWR on Maui 27 Apr (Alexander McDonell). A Least Sandpiper was also documented at this latter location 4 Mar–1 Apr (Tom Wilberding, Alec Hopping, Nathan Goldberg, Josh Beck, Richard May, Peter Donaldson).

Dowitchers through Phalarope

Oʻahu had an impressive six Long-billed Dowitchers at Pearl Harbor NWR on 16 Mar (Kurt Pohlman), which was followed by a report of four at nearby Pouhala Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary 26 Mar (Doug Broome). Three dowitchers were reported on Maui at Kanahā Pond Wildlife Sanctuary 1 May (Richard May, Peter Donaldson), while one individual remained at Keālia Pond NWR 19 Mar–13 Apr (Kean Oh, Miranda Drake, Rick Folkening, Daniel McGregor).

Hawaiʻi Island had reports of Spotted Sandpiper 22–28 Mar at Lokowaka Pond (Gret Dicey) and 30 Mar at Puako Beach Dr. (Margaret Sloan). On Oʻahu, one individual foraged at Loko Paʻaiau Fishpond mudflats 12–18 Apr (Kellen Apuna, Alexander Christensen, Michael Young, Paul Rodriguez, Lainie Berry, Paul Radley, Ben Hoffman). Midway Atoll’s Gray-tailed Tattler, banded in fall 2021, was regularly documented around the water catchment area through 14 May (Jonathan Plisner, Bob Toleno, Percy Ulsamer). The atoll was also graced by another visiting Tringa: a Lesser Yellowlegs was first observed 20 Apr at the brackish seep (Bob Toleno) and 26 Apr on Eastern Island (Bob Toleno) before it settled on the water catchment area 23–31 May (Jonathan Plissner, Chris Forster, Percy Ulsamer, Bob Toleno).

Kona pelagics off of Hawaiʻi Island sporadically turned up Red Phalarope this spring. Single birds were encountered 7 Mar (Mandy Talpas, Herbert Fechter, Robert Smith, Stephen Carroll), 26 Mar (Alex Wang, Sherman Wing, Richard May, Steve Kornfeld, Thane Pratt), and 27 Mar (Lance Tanino, Chris Daniels, Peter Rigsbee, Steve Kornfeld, Andrew Raine, Byron Stone), while pelagics on 24 Mar (Lance Tanino, Nathan Goldberg), 2 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Chris Benesh, Jay Gilliam, Kathy Drake, Nancy Casper, Helen Murphy, Christina Marks, Reginald David), and 3 Apr (Lance Tanino, Andre Golumbeski, Eryn Woernley, John Perry, Alex Dopp, Ellary Allis) each reported two Red Phalaropes.

Skuas through Gulls

South Polar Skua is uncommonly encountered in Hawaiian waters; however, shore-based sightings of the species are extremely rare in the state. The 15 May seawatch from Port Allen airfield on Kauaʻi was only the fourth to report this burly stercorariid (Adrian Burke). The skua’s cousin, Pomarine Jaeger, was observed from this same location, with three individualsone light and two dark morphson 23 April, followed by another bird the next day (Adrian Burke). Pomarine Jaeger was also reported from pelagics off the Kona coast of Hawaiʻi Island on 2 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Chris Benesh, Jay Gilliam, Kathy Drake, Lynn Glesne, Nancy Casper, Helen Murphy, Christina Marks, Reginald David) and 25 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Andre Mott, Laurie Graham, Alvaro Jaramillo, Reginald David, Dennis Davison, Raylene Wall, Ron Pozzi). Parasitic Jaeger was photographed on a 26 Mar pelagic based out of Kona, Hawaiʻi Island (Alex Wang, Richard May, Sherman Wing, Steve Kornfeld, Thane Pratt). The rarest jaeger for Hawaii, the Long-tailed Jaeger, was photographed twice in the Hawaii Region this spring: on 6 Apr, two thirds of the way between Kauaʻi and Nihoa (Alex Wang), and on 25 Apr off of Kona, Hawaiʻi Island (Mandy Talpas, Andre Mott, Laurie Graham, Alvaro Jaramillo, Reginald David, Dennis Davison, Raylene Wall, Ron Pozzi).

Oʻahu Laughing Gull observations came out of the Kalihi-Palama piers 18 Apr (Grace Thornton) and James Campbell NWR 26 Apr (David Hanna) and 22 May (Judith Harackiewicz). On Maui, birds frequented the expected gull haunts: Kanahā Pond Wildlife Sanctuary 4 Mar–10 May (Elizabeth Walker, Chaney Swiney, Richard May, Peter Donaldson, Rick Zapf, Sam Larkin, Mark Burns, Andy Renton, D. Lawton, Alexander McDonell, David Hanna, Rick Szabo) and Keālia Pond NWR 7 Mar–6 Apr (Elizabeth Walker, Alex Wang, Cody Lane, Phil Chaon, Nathan Goldberg, Reginald David). Hawaiʻi Island saw numerous Laughing Gull reports along the Kona Coast, consisting of at least two individuals, from Keāhole Point to Kealakekua between 4 Mar and 25 May (m. ob.). Interestingly, while most gulls seen in the Hawaiian Islands are first-cycle birds, one of these Hawaiʻi birds was not only an adult, but it was in the company of a much-less-common Franklin’s Gull. The pair were seen and photographed at Keāhole Point on 20 Apr (Lance Tanino). Franklin’s Gull was also spotted on westside Kauaʻi flying over the highway adjacent to the shrimp ponds on 22 Apr (Adrian Burke).

Ring-billed Gull spent several weeks at Keālia Pond NWR on Maui 13 Mar–6 Apr (Katherine Tyn, Nathan Goldberg, Lauren and Charlie (no last name), Alex Wang, Cody Lane, Phil Chaon, Reginald David, Alexander McDonell, Alec Hopping), and an adult was observed swimming at Kanahā Pond Wildlife Sanctuary 18 Apr (Alexander McDonell). Hawaiʻi Island had its own Ring-billed Gull at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park 8 Mar (Phil Chaon, Keelin Miller, Mark O’Keefe). Oʻahu’s wintering Glaucous-winged Gull was reportedly still in the Kahuku area as of 26 Mar at Hukilau Beach Park (Caleb Hancock) and the following day at Kahuku Golf Course (Jay Gilliam, Helen Murphy, Lynn Glesne).

Noddies through Tropicbirds

Rarely observed outside of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Blue-gray Noddy was seen flying with Black Noddies near Lehua Islet, west of Kauaʻi, on 29 Mar (Melissa Hafting, Ilya Povalyaev). Eight Gray-backed Terns were noted during 30 Apr biological fieldwork at Moku Manu Island offshore of Oʻahu, the only known breeding site for this species in the main Hawaiian Islands (Eric VanderWerf, Robby Kohley).

Spring Least Tern observations were concentrated at past breeding locations: courtship feeding behavior was observed on Midway Atoll 5–16 May (Bob Toleno, Percy Ulsamer, Jonathan Plissner) and up to five Least Terns were reported in the vicinity of Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant/ Kaloko-Honokōhau NHP on Hawaiʻi Island between 7 Mar and 27 May (m. ob.). Terns were also sporadically observed farther north along the Kona Coast, from Keāhole Point 30 Mar–6 May (Lance Tanino, Ron Pozzi) and nearshore waters on 27 Mar (Byron Stone, Lance Tanino, Steve Kornfeld, Chris Daniels, Peter Rigsbee). Curiously, Oʻahu’s Least Tern reportsof two birds on 18 Mar (Christopher Witt) and four on 24 Apr (Jaya Narayana)both originated from Waikiki rather than the more expected James Campbell NWR.

Oʻahu’s Nuʻupia Pond has produced near-annual reports of Caspian Tern stretching back to 2002 (Pyle 2017). This year’s overwintering individual was noted as being in full breeding plumage on 6 Mar (Kellen Apuna). Three Arctic Terns were reported during a 27 Apr pelagic out of Kona, Hawaiʻi Island (Mandy Talpas, Alvaro Jaramillo, Dennis Davison, Reginald David, Ron Pozzi). Oʻahu’s celebrated Red-billed Tropicbird was regularly reported 1 Mar–15 May makai of Koko Crater at its usual haunts: Ka Iwi Fishing Shrine and Lānaʻi Lookout (m. ob.).

Storm-Petrels through Shearwaters

Leach’s Storm-Petrel was observed singly at sea on a handful of pelagics out of Kona, Hawaiʻi Island: on 19 Mar (Mandy Talpas, Reginald David), 2 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Chris Benesh, Jay Gilliam, Lynn Glesne, Nancy Casper, Helen Murphy, Christina Marks, Reginald David), 25 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Alvaro Jaramillo, Andrea Mott, Laurie Graham, Reginald David, Dennis Davison, Raylene Wall, Ron Pozzi), and 27 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Alvaro Jaramillo, Reginald David, Dennis Davison, Ron Pozzi).

Laysan Albatross was reported soaring past Maui’s Napili Resort on 2 Mar (David Bredehoft). While the species nests on Oʻahu and islands farther north and west, it is infrequently encountered elsewhere in Hawaiian waters. Short-tailed Albatross pair “Gerald” and “Geraldine” returned to Midway Atoll over the winter, but their egg failed to hatch for unknown reasons (Jonathan Plissner). Despite their unsuccessful nesting attempt, both adults were still present on 9 Apr (Bob Toleno, Percy Ulsamer), and one of the birds remained as of 4 May (Jonathan Plissner).

Tristram’s Storm-Petrel breeds in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands but has only been observed in the waters surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands a handful of times. A 24 Apr report during a seawatch from Port Allen airfield on Kauaʻi may represent the first known shore-based sighting of the species (Adrian Burke).

A Kermadec Petrel was photographed wheeling above Kahili Beach on 5 Apr (Chris Daniels), which marked the twelfth year in a row that this southern hemisphere species returned to Kauaʻi’s north shore. Juan-Fernández Petrel was encountered on two separate Kona pelagics off of Hawaiʻi Island, on 3 Apr (Lance Tanino, Andre Golumbeski, Eryn Woernley, John Perry, Alex Dopp, Ellary Allis) and 25 April (Mandy Talpas, Alvaro Jaramillo, Reginald David, Ron Pozzi, Andrea Mott, Dennis Davison, Laurie Graham, Raylene Wall). A Kona pelagic on 4 Mar turned up a single White-necked Petrel off of Hawaiʻi Island (Lance Tanino, Decie Coleman, Dan Coleman).

Black-winged Petrel was encountered on other trips in the Kona area, with two birds on 9 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Reginald David, Jaculin Bowman, Ruth Meyer, Regina McNulty, Barb Rask, Deb Dirst, John Sprovieri) and single birds on 25 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Reginald David, Ron Pozzi, Alvaro Jaramillo, Dennis Davison, Andre Mott, Laurie Graham, Raylene Wall) and 27 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Reginald David, Ron Pozzi, Alvaro Jaramillo, Denis Davison). Cook’s Petrel was reported during a 9 Apr Kona pelagic (Mandy Talpas, Reginald David, Jaculin Bowman, Ruth Meyer, Deb Dirst, John Sprovieri). Two Cook’s Petrels were also reported from a seawatch at Hawaiʻi Island’s southernmost point on 29 Apr (Ron Pozzi).

Buller’s Shearwater was reported flying west past Kauaʻi’s Salt Pond Beach Park during a seawatch at that location 17 May (Adrian Burke). Christmas Shearwater was reported twice on Hawaiʻi Kona pelagics: three on 9 Mar (Phil Chaon, Mark O’Keefe, Keelin Miller) and one on 19 Mar (Mandy Talpas, Reginald David).

Egrets through Thrushes

The Great Egret which towered above its Cattle Egret cousins at Kauaʻi’s Hanalei NWR since Jun 2021 was last reported 6 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Jaculin Bowman, Deb Dirst, Ruth Meyer, Barb Rask, John Sprovieri), ending the apparent longest-documented residence of this species in the Hawaii region. White-faced Ibis was documented regularly at Pearl Harbor NWR on Oʻahu until 15 May (Paul Rodriguez), and a high count of eight individuals was achieved at the site on 18 Apr (Kurt Pohlman). On Hawaiʻi Island, up to three White-faced Ibis resided at Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant, with occasional sightings at nearby Honokōhau Marina, until 13 May (Reginald David, m. ob.).

An Osprey cruised low over Maui’s Hoʻokipa Beach Park on 26 May (Zach Pezzillo). Hawaiʻi Island’s Belted Kingfisher continued at Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site until 25 Mar (Kateri Roybal, Ken Oeser, Steve Hodges, Sherman Wing, Richard May). After a two-month dearth of sightings, Waikiki’s “Peale’s” Peregrine Falcon was spotted again 30 Apr (Michael Walther). It is likely the bird spent time elsewhere on Oʻahu, as a peregrine was seen successfully hunting Zebra Dove on 8 Mar at Niuliʻi Reservoir (Olivia Wang). Hawaiʻi Island’s falcon sightings consisted of a peregrine flying over Kulaniapia Falls on 21 Mar (Noah Sanders) and an individual pursuing a House Finch at South Point on 14 Apr (Bill McIver, Christine Hamilton).

Oʻahu’s small introduced Blue-crowned Parakeet population continued at Turtle Bay: a maximum of fourteen birds were counted arriving at their night roost 17 Mar (Eric VanderWerf). In addition, five individuals were reported at this location 19 Mar (Christopher Witt) and seven on 3 Apr (Colin Morita). Lilac-crowned Parrot, the most recent addition to Oʻahu’s cadre of escaped psittacids, was observed again near the Manana Trail water tank. Nine birds were detected on 9 Apr and five the following day (Kellen Apuna). Though the introduced Chinese Hwamei was widespread on Oʻahu throughout most of the 20th century, its distribution drastically contracted in the 21st (Pyle 2017). Lone birds were detected at only two locations on Oʻahu this spring: along the Manana Trail on 9 and 10 Apr (Kellen Apuna) and 19 May on Kuliʻouʻou Valley Trail (Eric VanderWerf).

White-rumped Shama, naturalized on several of the Main Hawaiian Islands, was first confirmed on Maui in 2015 and continued to be regularly detected on the western lobe 4 Mar24 Apr. The overall distribution of shama seems similar to the previous few seasons; however, the frequency of encounters within that area appears to be increasing. Shamas were encountered at Kapalua Village Trails (Thomas Gross), Olivine Pools (Elizabeth Walker), in the vicinity of Kahakuloa (Laura Murphy), Waiheʻe Coastal Dunes (Dan McNulty-Huffman), uplands of Waiheʻe-Waiehu (Alec Hopping), and ʻIao Valley (Louis Sobol). The primary hotspot of activity, however, appears to be the Waiheʻe Ridge Trail, with regular detections of up to three individuals tallied 17 Mar–12 Apr (Robert Ryan, Steve Myers, Amy Myers, Gloria Schwabe, Andy Schwabe, Vince Kloster, Kenneth Buchi, Carl Matthies, Learden Matties, Wolfgang Matthies, Andy Renton).

Historically, Kauaʻi was home to two endemic thrush species. While the larger of the two, the Kamaʻo, was last seen in 1989 and is almost certainly extinct, the more diminutive Puaiohi persists. This secretive species was detected at least twice this spring on the Alakaʻi Plateau: an individual was photographed in early Mar (Alec Hopping) and its distinctive call was heard mid-May (Jennifer Rothe, Stephen Rossiter, Michael McFarlin, Joseph Leibrecht, Tlell Wolf). The population, while small, appears stable relative to other forest bird species and hovers around 500 individuals inter-annually (Fantle-Lepczyk, J. A. Taylor, D. C. Duffy, L. H. Crampton, S. Conant 2018).

Honeycreepers through Grassquits

The spring season was punctuated by occasional reports of the critically endangered ʻAkikiki from Kauaʻi’s Mohihi-Waialae Trail. These encounters consisted of single birds on 4 Mar (Alec Hopping), 28 Mar (Josh Beck), and 14 May (Brendan Wang), pairs on 2 Apr (Thomas Ford-Hutchinson, Bruce Aird, Nathan Goldberg) and 15 May (Jennifer Rothe, Stephen Rossiter, Michael McFarlin, Joseph Leibrecht, Tlell Wolf), and three on 19 Mar (Paul Brubaker). Despite this handful of reports, the overall news remained bleak for Kauaʻi’s rarest honeycreeper: estimates placed the wild population at around 45 individuals, with extinction anticipated as soon as 2023 (Paxton, E. H., M. Laut, S. Enomoto, and M. Bogardus 2022).

Hawaiʻi Island’s endangered Palila was observed almost weekly 5 Mar–5 Apr (m. ob.) in the vicinity of the Palila Discovery Trail, on the western slopes of Mauna Kea. The vast majority of encounters with these charismatic birds featured individuals, most often heard rather than seen, though a handfulon 12 Mar (Alec Hopping), 25 Mar (Nathan Goldberg, Owen Deutsch, Josh Beck), and 5 Apr (Mike Bishop)cited pairs. Interestingly, there was one report outside of this area, at Puʻu Mali Restoration Area, the site of multiple translocation efforts, on 29 Mar (Eva Anderson). Palila sightings in the second half of the spring quarter were more sporadic and consisted of 1-2 birds on 23 Apr (Lance Tanino), one bird on 19 May (Pippa Swannell), and two birds on 24 May (Brooks Rownd). Current estimates place the Palila population between 451 and 940 individuals (Genz, A., K. W. Brinck, C. K. Asing, L. Berry, R. J. Camp, P. C. Banko 2022).

Maui’s ʻĀkohekohe, the largest of the extant Hawaiian honeycreepers and also one of the most distinctive in appearance, was not reported in spring for the second year in a row. While guided tours into Waikamoi Preservethe bird’s core remaining areahalted at the outset of the pandemic, they resumed in Apr 2022. There are an estimated 1768 individuals left in the wild (Genz, A., K. W. Brinck, C. K. Asing, L. Berry, R. J. Camp, P. C. Banko 2022). Kiwikiu, the critically endangered “Maui parrotbill,” inhabits a range similar to ʻĀkohekohe and faces the same threats, namely mosquito-borne avian malaria. Encounters outside of the core Waikamoi area are highly improbable. Nonetheless, one was reported at Hosmer’s Grove on 22 May (Soren Alexander). The current Kiwikiu population is estimated at 135 individuals, with extinction likely by 2027 (Paxton, E. H., M. Laut, S. Enomoto, and M. Bogardus 2022).

ʻAkekeʻe’s visual similarity to the more-common Kauaʻi ʻAmakihi and ʻAnianiau, combined with its propensity to very briefly alight on ʻōhiʻa crowns before flying great distances, makes this an incredibly difficult species to confidently identify. Furthermore, vocalizations of extant honeycreepers on Kauaʻi have converged over recent decades, making auditory-only detections unreliable (Paxton, K., E. Sebastián-González, J. M. Hite, L. H. Crampton, D. Kuhn, P. J. Hart 2019). One fleeting encounter was reported on the Pihea Trail 7 Mar (Phil Chaon, Keelin Miller, Mark O’Keefe). Other ʻAkekeʻe reports were confined to the Mohihi-Waialae Trail: one bird was seen on 4 Mar (Alec Hopping), one bird on 14 Mar (Chris Boccia, James Boccia), two birds on 28 Mar (Josh Beck), and one on 2 Apr (Thomas Ford-Hutchinson, Bruce Aird, Nathan Goldberg). Population estimates of this critically endangered species are 638 individuals, with extinction likely by 2028 (Paxton, E. H., M. Laut, S. Enomoto, and M. Bogardus 2022).

Yellow-faced Grassquit, native to eastern Mexico and the Caribbean and considered fully established on Oʻahu by the 1980s, has become harder to find over the last several decades (Pyle & Pyle 2017). Spring 2022 saw only one report of the species: on 14 Apr, three birds were heard trilling along the Poamoho Trail (Lainie Berry).

Fantle-Lepczyk, J., A. Taylor, D.C. Duffy, L.H. Crampton, and S. Conant. 2018. Using population viability analysis to evaluate management activities for an endangered Hawaiian endemic, the Puaiohi (Myadestes palmeri). PLOS ONE 13(6) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0198952

Genz, A., K.W. Brink, C.K. Asing, L. Berry, R.J. Camp, and P.C. Banko. 2022. 2019-2021 Palila abundance estimates and trend. Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit Technical Report HCSU-101. University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Paxton, E.H., M. Laut, S. Enomoto, and M. Bogardus. 2022. Hawaiian forest bird conservation strategies for minimizing the risk of extinction: biological and biocultural considerations. Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit Technical Report HCSU-103. University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Paxton, K.L., E.Sebastian-Gonzalez, J.M. Hite, L.H. Crampton, D. Kuhn and P.J. Hart. 2019. Loss of cultural song diversity and the convergence of songs in a declining Hawaiian forest bird community. Royal Society Open Science 6:190719 https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.190719

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 08 Nov 2022.

Photos–Hawaii: Spring 2022

The obliging Ruff, pictured here with a Pacific Golden-Plover at Ford Island, Oʻahu, delighted Hawaii birders with its five-day stopover near Pearl Harbor. 25 Mar 2022. Photo © Kellen Apuna.

A Kermadec Petrel, of the eponymous islands, returned to Kauaʻi’s north shore for the twelfth year in a row, continuing this Hawaiian island’s reputation as the only location in the northern hemisphere to reliably encounter this species. 5 Apr 2022. Photo © Chris Daniels.

The secretive Puaiohi, Kauaʻi’s only remaining endemic thrush, was detected at least twice on Alakaʻi trails during spring 2022. Photo © Alec Hopping.

Hawaii’s rarest honeycreeper, the ʻAkikiki, is endemic to Kauaʻi. This adult, photographed on the Mohihi-Waialae Trail on 4 Mar 2022, is one of an estimated 45 individuals remaining in the wild population, with extinction forecast as soon as 2023. Photo © Alec Hopping.

Palila, photographed here on Hawaiʻi Island’s Palila Discovery Trail on the slopes of Mauna Kea, depends on the seeds of the māmane tree and has undergone steady declines over the last twenty years. 12 Mar 2022. Photo © Alec Hopping.

Kauaʻi’s endemic “crossbill,” the ʻAkekeʻe, has experienced declines in both population and song uniqueness in recent decades. Highly susceptible to mosquito-borne avian malaria, extinction is predicted by 2028 if downward population trends are not arrested. 2 Apr 2022. Photo © Thomas Ford-Hutchinson.