New birds on the beautiful island of Maui
After spending several days with my sister in Oahu, Gayla and I flew over to Maui for a few days. On our first full day on the island, we drove the road to Hana that hugs the eastern coastline of Maui. The road was narrow and winding with countless single-lane bridges.
It took us about three hours to travel one-way to the Haleakala National Park Kipahulu Visitor Center situated just a few hundred yards from the ocean. The birding wasn't particularly good but the scenery made up for the lack of birds. It had rained for several days prior to our visiting the area, so the rivers were raging torrents. It was an impressive sight to look from the coast back towards the mountains and see waterfall after waterfall. Many of them must have been several hundred feet in height.
Two days later, we visited Haleakala National Park again, but this time we went up the mountain. Access to the top of the mountain - which is over 10,000 feet in elevation - is possible only by car. As the car climbed the mountain, it was fascinating to watch the outdoor temperature reading on the dashboard fall more than 20 degrees as we went to 7,000 feet.
Our first stop was the Park Headquarters Visitor Center. Fortunately, we were dressed appropriately and were well prepared for the weather conditions on the mountain. The day started out clear and sunny, but later in the day, the clouds moved in and we got to feel what it is like to be in a cloud forest. It was really hard to keep the lenses on my binoculars dry!
Gayla and I were privileged to go on a four-hour guided nature walk with a National Park Service employee. We met at Hosmer Grove and hiked onto private property - just outside of the park - that is managed by The Nature Conservancy. We were so fortunate to go on the field trip, as we got to see the native habitat that once covered this mountain but is now found only in very small, difficult to access areas.
My goal was to see some of the native, endemic rare bird species that cannot be found anywhere outside of the Hawaiian Islands. It was a great day, and I added five new bird species to my life list including the endangered Nene (Hawaiian Goose), 'Apapane, 'I'iwi, 'Amakihi and the Maui 'Alauahio. No, I did not make up these names, and no, I have no idea how to properly pronounce any of them either!
A lot of people think that some of the bird species in Arizona are hard to pronounce - such as Phainopepla and Pyrrhuloxia, but I thought the Hawaiian bird names were even more difficult to pronounce!
Interestingly, the day we got home from Hawaii there was a Prescott Audubon Society meeting, and the topic was focused on conservation efforts by The Nature Conservancy in Belize. As I listened to and watched the presentation, my desire to visit Belize grew ten-fold. I don't know if I will ever have that opportunity, but I know I would enjoy seeing the beautiful birds that inhabit that part of the Earth. Seeing new birds moves me; it is almost like a spiritual experience for me. I love being in nature.
I feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii and see these rare birds that I may never see again in my lifetime.
Don't forget we offer free guided bird walks weekly - call the store to sign up.
Eric M. Moore is the owner of Jay's Bird Barn, with two locations to serve northern Arizona - 1046 Willow Creek Road in Prescott, and 2360 State Highway 89A in Sedona.
Eric has been an avid birder for over 45 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email firstname.lastname@example.org.