Hawaii: Spring 2023

Spring 2023: 1 Mar–31 May

Alex Wang
axwang12@gmail.com

Jennifer Rothe
jennifer.a.rothe@gmail.com

Recommended citation:

Wang, A. and J. Rothe. 2023. Spring 2023: Hawaii. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-gsQ> North American Birds.

The arrival of spring in the Hawaiian Islands ushers in the end of the rainy season, but this year the arrival of fair, more stable weather was notably delayed. A parade of large, unusually active low pressure systems marched their way across the region all the way through into May. As a result, many areas of the Main Hawaiian Islands experienced flooding and high winds, and thunderstorms even pelted parts of Oʻahu with quarter-size hail.

The spring was likewise turbulent for ʻAkikiki—the most critically endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper—whose paltry numbers continued to dwindle. The heroic efforts of field crews racing to wrest the species from the jaws of imminent extinction were hampered by the uncooperative weather.

However, amid the generally gloomy atmosphere in the islands, a couple of bombshell birds managed to burst their way onto the scene. The region’s first pipit ever documented outside of Kure Atoll (also, incidentally, the first known occurrence outside of fall) showed up among the stunted growth of Kauaʻi’s high-elevation bogs. Even more remarkably, a Northern Lapwing appeared at the Brackish Seep on Midway Atoll, shocking even the most seasoned bird-forecasters. This marks only the second time this species has ever been documented anywhere west of Ohio.

Sub-regional Compilers

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

Waterfowl through Doves

Kauaʻi’s resident Snow Goose continued with its usual cadre of Hawaiian Geese at the Princeville Makai Golf Course (m. ob.), and the two Snow Geese first seen at Poʻipū‘s Kiahuna Golf Course were still present at that location as of 4 Apr (Walter Thorne). On Hawaiʻi Island, the Snow Goose which appeared at Hilo’s Waiākea Pond in Oct extended its stay through 5 May (m. ob.). Midway’s Greater White-fronted Goose continued and was sporadically reported until 14 May (Curtis Mahon, Jonathan Plissner, Chris Forster). Kauaiʻi’s bird, on the other hand, was last seen from Kawaiʻele State Waterbird Sanctuary, flying northeast with four Hawaiian Geese on 14 Mar (Hank Taliaferro). Five days later on Maui, a Greater White-fronted Goose was photographed at the wastewater treatment plant across from Kanahā Pond (Christian Hagenlocher) and seen there again on 27 Mar (Alex Lamoreaux, Chris Brown).

A banded Cackling Goose was reported at Kauaʻi’s Kīlauea Point NWR 29 Mar, apparently limping (Kenneth Ferguson, Lori Ferguson). A report from nearby Na ʻAina Kai Botanical Gardens on 31 Mar may have pertained to the same individual, but there were no notes regarding the physical condition or presence of bands (Brian Schmoke, Allie Causey). Following a winter of regular reports, the four Cackling Geese at James Campbell NWR on Oʻahu were last noted 8 Mar (Eric VanderWerf). However, Pearl Harbor NWR’s lone bird persisted through at least 30 May (Kurt Pohlman, Kristen Tanski). On Hawaiʻi Island, two Cackling Geese continued through 13 Apr (Lance Tanino, MaryBeth Krupa, Kevin Royal, Hayden Sheehan, Mallory Hinton, Kendra Billman, Cole Kempton, John Stromberg), and the decade-long resident bird at Kealakehe WTP appeared to be in no rush to vacate the premises (m. ob.).

Black Swans are kept at the Byodo-In Temple on Oʻahu’s windward side and at the Aulani Resort on the south shore, where they have bred. Numbers at the latter have steadily increased, and while staff make efforts to clip the birds’ wings, two individuals were observed at the Hawaiian Railway Society—five miles away from the resort—on 12 Apr (Alexander Ries).

A female Blue-winged Teal was documented 2 Mar–2 Apr at James Campbell NWR on Oʻahu, most often in the company of a male Northern Shoveler (Michael Young, Richard May, Walter Oshiro, Tim Waters, Kurt Pohlman, Mandy Talpas, Alex Lamoreaux, Chris Brown, James Hill, Bo Hopkins, Russel Hillsley, Charlene Dzielak, Caleb Hancock). A female Greater Scaup continued at Kealakehe WTP on Hawaiʻi Island through 4 Apr (Reginald David, Ron Pozzi, Hank Taliaferro, Mandy Talpas, m. ob.). A female scaup was also observed at Kauaʻi’s Kawaiʻele SWS on 15 Mar (David Hanna, Hank Taliaferro).

After a rather busy winter wherein Pied-billed Grebe was observed at three separate locations on Hawaiʻi Island, by spring only the Waiākea Pond individual remained. Present since 2015, the bird was regularly reported throughout the spring (m. ob.). A Mourning Dove—rare on Kauaʻi—flew by during a seawatch at Port Allen airfield on 8 May (Adrian Burke).

Shorebirds

On 25 Apr, a most unexpected visitor was discovered at the Brackish Seep on Midway Atoll: the first Northern Lapwing ever documented anywhere in the Hawaii Region (Jonathan Plissner). Regional firsts do tend to be quite remarkable; however this find was a cut above the average vagrant. The nearest known breeding area for Northern Lapwing is on the Chinese mainland, over 3000 miles from Midway. A closer, overwintering population exists in Japan but is still some 2700 miles removed over open ocean. Both the Philippines (Jensen et al. 2015) and Borneo (Mann 2008), despite their relative geographic closeness, only have three records each of the species (Mann 2008). Yet, they are cited as some of the most far-flung examples despite being twice as close to a wintering location as Midway. Northern Lapwing does occur almost annually in Newfoundland (Wiersma et al. 2020), and the eastern seaboard of the United States is dotted with occurrences, all likely pertaining to European birds. West of Ohio, however, is a wide swath of continent—and ocean—with an utter dearth of records. The only comparably bizarre Northern Lapwing occurrence involved a female that turned up in Oct 2006 at Alaska’s Shemya Island, close to Attu in the Aleutian Islands (Tobish 2007). Shemya is situated in the Eastern hemisphere, making the Midway Atoll bird the only time a Northern Lapwing has been found anywhere west of Ohio and east of the international date line. The bird was regularly observed at its original wetland haunt until 9 May, after which it was never seen again (Jonathan Plissner, Chris Farmer, Scott Wolff).

The Black-bellied Plover wintering at Hawaiʻi Island’s Keāhole Point was observed again 3 Mar (Lance Tanino, Hal Snyder, Kirsten Snyder, Nick Merc) and 27 Mar (Hank Taliaferro). Molokaʻi’s Black-bellied Plover was still present at Kōheo Wetland, with sightings on 3 and 20 Apr (Jean Eaton). A single Black-bellied Plover was noted at Nuʻupia Ponds on 12 Mar (Richard May, Peter Donaldson), a rather subdued count compared to the three individuals observed at the location in Jan. On Hawaiʻi Island, the Ruff at Kealakehe WTP was observed 110 Mar (Reginald David, James Halsch, Lance Tanino, Hal Michael, Pat Michael, Ron Pozzi, Dorian Anderson, Judith Allanson, Asher Higgins, Keith Barnes, Judy Rash, Susanna Solecki, Rebecca Dewhirst, John Lynch). On the Hilo side, a juvenile Ruff frequented Liliʻuokalani Gardens 1022 Mar (Sherman Wing, Alex Wang, Sam Preer, Russell Conard).

Following a remarkably quiet winter for Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, a bird unexpectedly turned up at Keāhole Point on Hawaiʻi Island on 17 May (Lance Tanino). Excluding an injured individual which oversummered on Oʻahu in 2003, this may well be the latest known occurrence of the species in the Main Hawaiian Islands (Pyle & Pyle 2017). A lone Dunlin continued at Maui’s Keālia Pond NWR 23 Mar20 Apr, alternately foraging with—or being chased by—a Sanderling (Wendy Swee, Alex Lamoreaux, Chris Brown, Kenny Frisch, Caroline Savage, James McClellan, Cathy Huckins). The Least Sandpiper which appeared at Hawaiʻi Island’s Kealakehe WTP in autumn was reported one last time on 3 Mar (Hal Michael, Pat Michael). Likewise, the Pectoral Sandpiper at Maui’s Kealia Pond NWR was last seen being chased by a Sanderling on 23 Mar (Carol Beam, Wendy Swee). Kauaʻi’s Spotted Sandpiper, which had been at Kawaiʻele SWS since Oct 2022, was last seen 22 Apr (Adrian Burke, Scott Schmidt, Susan Schmidt).

Midway Atoll’s Gray-tailed Tattler trio was still present on 19 Mar (Curtis Mahon). Two birds were reported on 27 Apr, but the rest of the sporadic spring sightings pertained to one individual, last seen 14 May (Jonathan Plissner, Chris Forster). While this Asiatic species occurs even more rarely in the southeastern part of the Hawaiian Island chain, Kauaʻi’s Gray-tailed Tattler—first discovered at Salt Pond Beach Park on 17 Jan (Adrian Burke)—continued to be reported through 14 April (m. ob.). The celebrated Wood Sandpiper at Hawaiʻi Island’s Opaeʻula Pond—only the second of its species ever confirmed in the Southeastern Hawaiian Islands—continued 3 Mar–8 Apr (James Halsch, Hank Taliaferro, Raymond VanBuskirk, Matt Baumann, Sam Fason).

Red Phalarope was encountered offshore from Kona, Hawaiʻi Island, during back-to-back pelagics on 7 Apr (Alex Wang, Bret Mossman) and 8 Apr (Lance Tanino, Raymond VanBuskirk, Christopher Meglino, Matt Baumann, Mark Wilson).

Jaegers through Tropicbirds

Seawatches conducted at Port Allen, Kauaʻi turned up one Pomarine Jaeger on 11 Apr (Adrian Burke) and three on 5 May (Adrian Burke, David Hanna, Robby Kohley). An individual was also photographed offshore of Kona, Hawaiʻi Island on 7 Apr (Alex Wang, Bret Mossman). A pelagic tour in the same area the following day resulted in two separate encounters with a Parasitic Jaeger, including one observation of a kleptoparasitic pursuit of a Black Noddy (Lance Tanino, Mark Wilson, Christopher Meglino, Lee Gregory, Matt Baumann, Raymond VanBurkirk). Rounding out the jaeger slam, two adult Long-tailed Jaegers were encountered on a 6 Apr Kona pelagic (Mandy Talpas, Alex Lamoreaux, Bo Hopkins, Charlene Dzielak, Chris Brown, James Hill, Russel Hillsley). Another individual was reported during a 10 Apr Port Allen seawatch on Kauaʻi (Adrian Burke).

The winter’s low Laughing Gull numbers persisted into spring. With the exception of a report of two birds at Honokōhau Small Boat Harbor on Hawaiʻi Island 2 Apr (Eleanor Sarren), all spring sightings involved single birds. Individuals were seen on Kauaʻi in Eleʻele on 3 Mar (Teresa Pegan, Eric Gulson) and at Kawaiʻele SWS on 5 Mar (Jason Riggio, Alex Woinski). On Oʻahu, Laughing Gull was reported from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on 4 May (Gus Cothran) and from Marine Corps Base Hawaii on 13 Apr (Mandy Talpas, Alvaro Jaramillo, Will Huggins, Bill Holland, Mick Griffin, Susan Peterson, Sue Cossins) and 10 May (Richard Fischer). Maui’s Kanahā Pond Wildlife Sanctuary had gull observations on 9 Mar (Jade Ujcic-Ashcroft), 10 Mar (Jim Pea), and 12 Mar (Tim Ward). On Hawaiʻi Island, Laughing Gull was reported from Kealakehe WTP 4 May (Simon Priestnall) and Keāhole Point and vicinity 8 Mar–20 May (Lance Tanino, Hank Taliaferro, Daniel Harris, Raymond VanBuskirk, Christopher Meglino, Matt Baumann, Lee Gregory, Mark Wilson, Reginald David).

Keāhole Point also saw a report of an adult Franklin’s Gull on 3 May (Lance Tanino) and 4 May (Simon Priestnall). Midway’s Slaty-backed Gull was reported again on Eastern Island on 14 Mar (Curtis Mahon), this time without its usual Glaucous-winged Gull escort. The only Glaucous-winged Gull report this spring came from Oʻahu’s Marine Corps base on 3 Mar (Lena Dominique-Nilsson).

Gray-backed Tern flew past Oʻahu’s Japanese Fishing Shrine on two occasions: one bird on 7 Apr (Eric VanderWerf) and two on 29 Apr (Adrian Burke). As in previous spring seasons, Little Tern was observed near the water catchment area of Midway Atoll on 25 Apr, 12 May, and 14 May (Jonathan Plissner, Chris Forster). Up to three Least Terns were reported in the same area between 25 Apr and 14 May (Jonathan Plissner, Chris Forster) and from the cargo pier on 22 Apr (Chris Forster). Least Tern was also frequently encountered in the vicinity of Kailua-Kona on Hawaiʻi Island between 19 Mar and 24 May (m. ob.), likely indicating ongoing breeding in that area.

The Caspian Tern overwintering at Oʻahu’s Nuʻupia Ponds—an almost annual occurrence since 2002—was reported this spring on 10 and 11 Mar (Hugo Cobos, Kurt Pohlman, Michael Young). The adult Black Tern originally discovered on 20 Dec at Kealakehe WTP (David Roberts) and later reported at Mauna Lani Golf Course 8 Feb (Mandy Talpas) was observed at the latter location several times this spring: on 1–5 Mar (Lori d’Agincourt-Canning) and 12 Mar (Keith Bailey, Meghan O’Hearn, Merrill Lynch). While a handful of Black Tern records exist for Hawaiʻi Island, this appears to be the first since Dec 2015.

Red-billed Tropicbird is a well-known recurring rarity on Oʻahu in the vicinity of the Koko Crater. This spring, sightings spanned the entirety of the season (m. ob.). The majority of these pertained to one individual; however, pairs were reported twice: from the Lānaʻi Lookout on 2 Mar (Eric VanderWerf) and the Japanese Fishing Shrine on 14 Apr (Jonathan Lethbridge, Michael Southcott).

Procellariids

Hawaiʻi Island Laysan Albatross encounters are notable, as the big island is relatively far removed from the nearest known breeding sites on Kauaʻi and Oʻahu. This spring season saw three separate Laysan encounters off the Kona Coast: a flyover bird at Kahaluʻu Beach Park 28 Mar (Lisa Priestley), a southbound bird during a Keāhole Point seawatch on 12 Apr (Lance Tanino), and a bird seen from a boat on 18 April (Alex Carr). Like Laysan Albatross, Black-footed Albatross is infrequently observed east of Molokaʻi. However, an individual was photographed in Maui’s ʻAuʻau Channel on 9 Mar (Kathryn Dick) and seen during an 8 Apr Kona pelagic off of Hawaiʻi Island (Lance Tanino, Raymond VanBuskirk, Christopher Meglino, Mark Wilson, Matt Baumann).

On Midway Atoll, the celebrated Short-tailed Albatross pair “Gerald” & “Geraldine” continued raising this season’s chick: their fourth since their first known meeting on Midway in 2016. In addition to “Gerald” and the chick, the pair’s four-year old juvenile—banded red AA08—was reported on 8 Apr (Jonathan Plissner). Red AA08 followed its father briefly out to sea before returning to investigate its 3.5-month-old sibling, who received band green AA00 on 16 Apr (Chris Forster). A separate subadult, banded on the Japanese island of Torishima and not related to the established Midway birds, was seen on 23 Apr (Chris Forster).

Leach’s Storm-Petrel is somewhat expected off Hawaiʻi Island’s Kona Coast, where pelagic birding tours occur frequently, but it is less commonly reported in the vicinity of Kauaʻi. On 18 Mar, the species was photographed twice in the Kaulakahi Channel (between the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau) during a rare pelagic trip based out of Port Allen (Mandy Talpas, Stephen Rossiter, Robby Kohley, Jonathan Slifkin, Maria Sabatini, Emmylou Kidder). On 11 Mar, a putative Northern Fulmar was spotted circling around the eastern side of Molokini crater, an islet off of Maui (Christian Hagenlocher). The vast majority of fulmar records in the Hawaii Region pertain to dead or dying individuals (Pyle & Pyle 2017).

Kermadec Petrel was reported from Kahili Beach Preserve on 23 May (Ilya Povalyaev, Melissa Hafting) and was heard vocalizing as it flew over Kīlauea Point NWR’s upper lookout on the evening of 27 May (Ben Vizzachero). This area of Kauaʻi’s north shore has regularly had summer Kermadec sightings for over the last decade. Unexpectedly, however, Kermadec Petrel was also observed in Hawaii Co this spring: an individual was photographed during a Kona pelagic 14 Mar (Mandy Talpas, Reginald David, Jonathan Slifkin, Jeffery Sole, Hal Snyder, Kirsten Snyder, David Lang, Carol Sole) and one was reported from nearby Keāhole Point during a 22 Mar seawatch (Lance Tanino).

A subsequent 26 Apr seawatch from this point turned up two passes by Juan-Fernández Petrel (Lance Tanino). Another was observed during a 2 Mar pelagic out of Kona, Hawaiʻi Island (Mandy Talpas, Reginald David, Ron Pozzi, Catherine Bland, Cheryl Jacobson, Chris Magana, Jake Mohlmann, Joe Gardner, Judith White, Kyri Freeman). Birders on an 8 Apr Kona pelagic were treated to close views of a White-necked Petrel (Lance Tanino, Lee Gregory, Mark Wilson, Matt Baumann, Raymond VanBuskirk, Christopher Meglino).

Kona pelagics also turned up a Black-winged Petrel on 2 Mar (Mandy Talpas, Reginald David, Ron Pozzi, Catherine Bland, Cheryl Jacobson, Chris Magana, Jake Mohlmann, Joe Gardner, Judith White, Kyri Freeman) as well as a Buller’s Shearwater on 13 May (Lance Tanino, Peter Rigsbee, David Alvarez, Kean Oh, Lucas Lang, Yikai Huang). A Hawaiʻi Island Keāhole Point seawatch had one Buller’s Shearwater on 26 Apr (Lance Tanino). Seawatches at Port Allen on Kauaʻi (Adrian Burke) turned up individual Buller’s Shearwater on 23 and 24 May, followed by two on 29 May and a big pulse of nine and eleven birds on 30 and 31 May, respectively.

Kauaʻi is estimated to hold 90% of the world’s Newell’s Shearwater population, but observations of the species are more unexpected farther southeast in the island chain. One southbound bird was seen from Maui’s Hana Bay BP on 8 Apr (Adrian Burke), and another was observed flying northeast during a seawatch at Makapuʻu Point, Oʻahu on 29 Apr (Adrian Burke).

Sulids through Psittacids

Masked Booby is infrequently observed outside of Honolulu and Hawaiʻi Cos. However, Kauaʻi Co saw two reports this spring: one bird was photographed making several passes past Kīlauea Point NWR on 23 Mar (Mandy Talpas, Steve Yurkovich, Frank Verstraete, Bruce Magurn, Charlie Nims, Sheila McCarthy, Joan Sims, George Sims, Craig Caldwell, Wilbur Miller, J. Miller, Tom Johnson) and another was seen near Lehua Islet on 27 Mar (Sherman Wing). Masked Booby was also reported during a whale-watching excursion based out of Lāhainā, Maui on 12 Apr (Amanda Brown, Diane van Dijk).

A Nazca Booby was photographed during a 14 Mar pelagic out of Kona, Hawaiʻi Island, in an area where a trickle of reports have originated over the last several years (Mandy Talpas, Reginald David, Ron Pozzi, Carol Sole, Jeffrey Sole, David Lang, Hal Snyder, Kirsten Snyder, Jonathan Slifkin). Brown Booby is common throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago, with dark-headed “Forster’s” being the expected subspecies. However, a frosty-headed “Brewster’s” Brown Booby was photographed at Kauaʻi’s Kīlauea Point NWR on 6 May (David Alvarez).

The Hawaiʻi Island Snowy Egret, discovered on 26 Dec, continued to be regularly reported at Kealakehe WTP and nearby Kaloko Honokōhau NHP until 7 May (m. ob.). White-faced Ibis continued at Hanalei NWR on Kauaʻi through 13 Apr (Douglas Hall, Dave Ebbitt, Andrew Markel, Billy Weber, Tom Edell). Up to eight ibises were observed at Pearl Harbor NWR until all sightings ceased 16 Apr (Michael Young, Kurt Pohlman, Tim Waters, J Joseph). On Maui, the ibis at Kanahā Pond NWR continued through 27 Mar (Al Guarente, Newton Liu, Marla Johnson, Jan Thom, Jim Pea, Jade Ujcic-Ashcroft, Tim Ward, Christian Hagenlocher, Alex Woinski, Alex Lamoreaux, Chris Brown). A rather late ibis was photographed at Keālia Pond NWR on 12 May (Melissa Hafting, Ilya Povalyaev). On Hawaiʻi Island, up to three ibis continued until 15 Apr (m. ob.). Most observations over the ensuing ten days involved one individual, which was last reported 24 Apr (Reginald David).

Following a stellar winter of Osprey activity on three separate islands, only one location—Maui’s Keālia Pond—saw reports spill into the spring season: 1 Mar (Nolan Shishido), 27 Mar (Alex Lamoreaux, Chris Brown), and 28 Mar (Kenny Frisch). On Oʻahu, Northern Harrier continued at James Campbell NWR 2–31 Mar (Michael Young, Eric VanderWerf, Walter Oshiro, Brandon Hough, Jimmy McMorran) and Pearl Harbor NWR 18 Mar–1 Apr (Michael Young, Tim Waters, Alex Lamoreaux, Chris Brown). The James Campbell harrier was observed being harassed by a Peregrine Falcon on 8 Mar (Eric VanderWerf), providing a rare example of interspecific raptor interaction in a region generally lacking in Falconiformes.

A female Belted Kingfisher continued hunting the ponds at Haloko-Honokōhau NHP along Hawaiʻi Island’s Kona Coast through 6 Apr (Virgina Armstrong, Pippa Swannell, Reginald David, Edward Jordan, Alex Lamoreaux, Chris Brown, Tom Johnson). While this was not the first Belted Kingfisher to haunt this particular stretch of coastline, it is most certainly a different individual, as the 2017 bird was a male. Just north of the kingfisher pond, at Kohanaiki Beach Park, an adult Peregrine Falcon was seen on 13 Apr pursuing Wedge-tailed Shearwaters offshore 13 Apr (Sam Fason). An adult was also seen hunting over Maui’s Keālia Pond NWR on 10 Apr (Sebastian Schmid). On Oʻahu, a peregrine flew past Kaʻena Point Natural Area Reserve on 28 (Chris Thompson) and was seen at James Campbell NWR on 8 Mar (Eric VanderWerf).

There were regular spring reports of Tanimbar Corella from the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary on Hawaiʻi Island, typically of between one and three individuals (Ron Pozzi, Bryan Gieszl, Hank Taliaferro, Edward Jordan, Sam Preer, Chris Daniels, Bruce Christensen, Alex Lamoreau, Mark Wilson, John Lynch). Given the longevity of the species, its continued presence at the site is unsurprising. However, one of the birds was observed entering and exiting a tree cavity on 1 Apr (Chris Daniels) and 7 Apr (Alex Lamoreaux), which likely indicates that nesting occurred this season.

Passerines

White-rumped Shama, first introduced to Kauaʻi around 1931, naturally dispersed onto neighboring islands and only recently found its way to Maui, with the first substantiated report being at Honolua Bay on 25 May 2015 (Pyle & Pyle 2017). This spring saw pockets of reports not only in the original area of detection (Ken Tweedt, Kenny Frisch, Loren Kliewer, Cathy Huckins, Elizabeth Ferber, Marigold Ardron, Gerard Ardron, Al Guarente), but across much of the island. Waiheʻe Ridge Trail had reports of up to two birds (Alex Lapierre, Jan Thom, Melinda Welton, Loren Kliewer), while lowland Waiheʻe Refuge had up to four (Alex Lapierre, Jade Ujcic-Ashcroft, Lisa Morehouse, Melissa Hafting, Akshay Sharma). A male was photographed at ʻIao Valley (Lisa Morehouse) and one shama was reported from Keālia Pond NWR (Kevin Coleman), Makena Beach (Jacob Grover), and Kipahulu Campground (Celeste LaFleur). A pair flew across the road at Maui Wine (Jamie Claus).

During the course of a Hawaiʻi Forest Bird Survey transect on 16 Mar, observers happened upon a rare bird of a starkly different nature than those targeted by the surveys: an American Pipit, bobbing its tail across the boggy substrate near Kauaʻi’s Kilohana Lookout (Alex Wang, Jonny Shepard). Prior to this sighting, there had been only four recorded instances of pipits in the Hawaii Region: one other sighting of the same species, two occurrences of Red-throated Pipits, and one flock of 12-15 Olive-backed Pipits (Pyle & Pyle 2017). Curiously, every single one of these occurred in Sep or Oct on Kure Atoll (the northwesternmost part of the Hawaiian Archipelago), the most recent of which was in 1983 (Pyle & Pyle 2017). The Kauaʻi bird therefore was the second-ever American Pipit in the Hawaii Region, the first pipit to be recorded outside of the fall season, and the first pipit ever encountered in the Main Hawaiian Islands. Following the initial incredible chance encounter, the bird was never seen again.

Elsewhere on Kauaʻi, efforts continued to bring the last few remaining wild ʻAkikiki into captivity until landscape-level measures can be taken to mitigate the primary threat to their existence: disease-bearing mosquitoes. Unfortunately, field crews conducting the work saw their considerable efforts impacted by relentlessly bad weather. Multiple nest failures were observed due to rat depredations as well as from parents simply vanishing—likely a result of avian malaria claiming yet another victim. Despite these setbacks, ʻAkikiki was still reported a handful of times from its final stronghold in Kauaʻi’s ʻAlakaʻi Wilderness Preserve during the spring period. Video was obtained of adults visiting a nest on 1 Mar (Teresa Pegan, Eric Gulson). A pair of adults and one spectacled juvenile were seen concurrently on 5 Mar, and the observer felt that a total of five birds were encountered during the excursion (Jason Vassallo). Two ʻAkikiki were seen in the same area on 10 Mar (Mandy Talpas, Hal Snyder, Kirsten Snyder, Jeffery Sole, Jonathan Slifkin), and at least one—but possibly two—individuals of unknown age were detected in the area one week later (Hank Taliaferro). A juvenile and two adults were reported 25 Mar (Chris Burney, Devich Farbotnik). Attempts on 4 Apr (Eric VanderWerf, David Hanna) and 22 May (Melissa Hafting, Ilya Povalyaev) both turned up one bird each.

On Hawaiʻi Island, an endangered Palila was photographed on 5 Mar halfway from the road junction to Palila Discovery Trail, a surprisingly low-elevation detection. After a long period of hit-and-(mostly)-miss presence at Palila Discovery Trail over the last several years, there were weekly reports of the eponymous bird throughout Mar and Apr of this year, often in multiples (m. ob.). Sightings were more sporadic on the trail in May, with a detection of two birds on 17 May (Christopher Hinkle) and one on 23 May (Veton Saliu, Courtney Dwyer). Farther upslope, the Mauna Kea bird surveys found between one and four individuals per point count on 1 May (Brooks Rownd) and 2 May (Alex Wang).

ʻAkekeʻe, Kauaʻi’s second-most-endangered honeycreeper, was reported sporadically from the ʻAlakaʻi Plateau this spring, with single birds seen on 4 Mar (Jason Vassallo), 10 Mar (Mandy Talpas, Hal Snyder, Kirsten Snyder, Jeffrey Sole, Jonathan Slifkin), 12 Mar (Asher Higgins), 16 Mar (Hank Taliaferro), 23 Mar (Chris Burney), 27 Mar (Billy Weber, Devich Farbotnik), 30 Mar (Raymond VanBuskirk), and 3 Apr (Robby Kohley). An 8 Mar observation turned up two individuals (Derb Carter, Merrill Lynch).

Red-crested Cardinal is established on most of the Main Hawaiian Islands except for Hawaiʻi Island, where Yellow-billed Cardinal is abundant. However, an adult red-crested was photographed at the Westin Hapuna Beach Hotel on 5 Apr (Joel Strafelda) and was presumably the same individual reported by another observer in the same location that morning (Janet Fries). While earlier reports exist, there was an uptick in frequency of eBird reports in 2018, particularly along the stretch of coastline where the two spring reports originated.

Reports of Saffron Finch, originally noted on Maui near Kula in 2010 (Pyle & Pyle 2017), have slowly increased over the intervening years. Presence on the island this spring approximated that in winter: the density of observations was greatest along the coastline between Keālia NWR and Wailea (m. ob.). Kapalua area on the western lobe had two reports on 3 Mar, of one bird at Kapalua Walking Trail and one at Honolua Bay (Al Guarente). Upcountry reports included two individuals in Kula on 18 Mar (Elizabeth Ferber) and four at Maui Wine on 26 May (Chris Selby). Garden of Eden Arboretum on the north shore of Maui’s eastern lobe had a heard-only detection on 28 May (Akshay Sharma).

Jensen, A. E., T. H. Fisher, and R. O. Hutchinson (2015). Notable new bird records from the Philippines. Forktail 31:24–36.

Mann, C. F. (2008). The Birds of Borneo: An Annotated Checklist. B.O.U. Checklist 23. British Ornithologists’ Union, and British Ornithologists’ Club, Peterborough.

Tobish, Thede. 2007. Alaska. North American Birds 61 (1):122-126, 2007. https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/nab/v061n01/p00122-p00126.pdf

Pyle, R. L., and P. Pyle. 2017. The Birds of the Hawaiian Islands: Occurrence, History, Distribution, and Status. B. P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, HI, U.S.A. Version 2 (1 January 2017). http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/birds/rlp-monograph

Wiersma, P., G. M. Kirwan, and C. J. Sharpe (2020). Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.norlap.01

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 27 Nov 2023.

Photos–Hawaii: Spring 2023

The first Northern Lapwing ever documented between Ohio and the International Date Line was found on Midway Atoll, in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. 25 Apr 2023. Photo © Jonathan Plissner.

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Hawaiʻi Island’s Keāhole Point on 17 May is the latest known non-oversummering occurrence of the species in the Main Hawaiian Islands. Photo © Lance Tanino.

Salt Pond Beach Park on Kauaʻi hosted a Gray-tailed Tattler 17 Jan–14 Apr. Photo © Mark Wilson.

An impromptu Short-tailed Albatross family reunion occurred on Midway Atoll when “George” and “Geraldine’s” 2019 chick met its 3.5-month-old sibling. 8 Apr 2023. Photo © Chris Forster.

A 14 Mar pelagic birding tour encountered this Kermadec Petrel west of Kona, Hawaiʻi Island. Photo © Jonathan Slifkin.

This Belted Kingfisher, photographed here on 25 Mar, has presided over the ponds at Hawaiʻi Island’s Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park since at least 4 Nov. Photo © Edward Jordan.

This American Pipit, found nonchalantly tail-bobbing along Kauaʻi’s ʻAlakaʻi Swamp Trail on 16 Mar, was the first time a pipit had been reported anywhere in the Hawaiian Archipelago outside of Kure Atoll. Photo © Alex Wang.

ʻAkikiki, Hawaii’s most critically endangered honeycreeper, faced additional setbacks from mosquito-borne avian malaria this spring. This adult was photographed on 5 Mar in Kauaʻi’s ʻAlakaʻi Wilderness Preserve. Photo © Jason Vassallo.