Birds native and introduced to Kauai are featured in several exhibits and many photographs. You can learn where different introduced birds came from.
See our online photo gallery of Kauai Birds.
See the difference between the introduced Barn Owl and the native Hawaiian owl, the Pueo – the pueo is smaller and browner, and flies in the daytime, not the night.
Aids for bird watchers include several excellent birding books and an audio CD of Kauai forest bird sounds.
Perhaps the most obvious bird life in the parks are the wild chickens, though occasionally nene are sighted (Click here for a form to Count The Nene).
Conservation message from Hui o Laka:
Why we recommend you don’t feed the chickens!
It’s become a tradition over the last 50 years for kids to feed the chickens at park lookouts and around the Lodge at Kokee and Koke’e Museum. Here’s why we recommend you help change that. We’ve created “an unnatural population” of chickens by feeding them. Such a huge flock of chickens creates these problems:
- It’s not sanitary or pleasant to walk through kukae moa (chicken manure!).
- Lots of chickens in the park can make for unsafe driving when visitors try to avoid them or brake for them. In actuality, these parking-lot saavy birds seldom get squished by cars. That happens to Nene (sadly).
- Chickens are very bad for native Hawaiian plants – they compact earth in some places and dig it up in others. The Nature Trail would recover more quickly without so many chickens.
- Chickens are very bad for native Hawaiian birds – they carry avian pox and other diseases which kill native birds.
Will the chickens starve if we don’t feed them?
Nope, but for awhile the area may suffer increased scratching as chickens leave parking and public areas hungry. What eventually will happen is that they will disperse, as well as have lowered fertility rates (fewer eggs per clutch) once they’re weaned off high-protein cracked corn.
The History and Myth of Wild Chickens at Koke’e
Though most of us cannot imagine any Koke’e overlook or parking lots without lots of wild chicken, Tutut Sarah Kauaka, a long time Hui o Laka member who fondly remembers her family time in Koke’e, says there were no chickens in the area in the 1930’s.
Wild chickens were actively promoted in the 1950s as a wildlife visitor attraction. Forester and Hui o Laka co-founder, Joe souza, fed them in order to get a flock going, a tradition that has continued for many years with the sale of little bags of cracked corn at the Lodge at Koke’e.
The birds also came to be associated with an early Koke’e Museum director, Dr. Gladys Falsaw, who many remember as “the chicken lady.” She was very strict with little boys who hasseled or chased the chickens that gathered between the Lodge and Koke’e Museum.
Everyone noticed that Koke’es chicken population really exploded after Hurricane Iniki - some “blew in,” it seemed.
Koke’e’s chicken flocks are no longer the “jungle fowl” they once were – English scientists recently tested their blood and found there is hardly any genetic evidence of their origin as “jungle fowl” that the Hawaiians originally brought to the islands. This is probably the result of folks who have dropped off unwanted domestic fowl, from Rhode Island Reds to gangly white Leghorns, in Kokee.