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NATURE

BIRDWATCHING & WILDLIFE VIEWING

Hawaii is the "endangered bird capital of the world". More species of native birds have become extinct in Hawaii in the last 200 years than anywhere else. Of the 87 native species of birds in Hawaii, 23 are extinct, 29 are endangered and one is threatened!! 21 forest bird species are said to be on the Federal Endangered Species list.

FAUNA: (Excerpt from the Kauai Recreational Map, Dept. of Land & Natural Resources)
Kauai is the home of a wide variety of endemic, indigenous, migratory, and introduced birds. Nearly all native forest and song birds can only be found above 3,000 feet elevation within predominately native forest habitats above the mosquito range where they are safe from insect borne diseases. These include: The Apapane, Iiwi, Amakihi, Anianiau, Elepaio, Akepa, Kauai Creeper, and the six critically endangered, Oo aa, Ou, Akialoa, Nukupuu, Kamao, and Puaiohi. The Pihea-Alakai Swamp Trail, Kokee Park trails and Awaawapuhi Trail are good places to view these birds. The endangered forest birds are close to extinction and not likely to be seen.

Many introduced songbirds from various parts of the world are found in the lowlands and occasionally in the upland forests. Some examples are the Common Mynah, Red Cardinal, Japanese White-eye, Melodious Laughing Thrush, Shama Thrush and many others.

Four endemic or indigenous waterbirds are classed as endangered on Kauai: The Hawaiian Duck (Koloa), Hawaiian Moorhen, Hawaiian Coot, and Black-necked Stilt. These can be seen at the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, and several other wetland habitats around Kauai.

Hawaii's State bird, the endangered Nene (Hawaiian Goose), is now becoming well established on Kauai. It is seen regularly at the Westin Lagoons near Lihue, near Poipu, and at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, which is also the best place to view seabirds such as Red-footed Boobies, Great Frigate birds, Red-tailed Tropic birds, and Laysan Albatross. Excellent bird guides with color photos are available at most bookstores for a reasonable price.

Kauai has only two native mammals: The Hawaiian Monk Seal, and the Hawaiian Bat. Both are classed as endangered. It is unlawful to harass, or to approach closer than 100 feet to monk seals. Feral pigs are found in most wildland parts of the Island, and are not dangerous unless cornered. Feral goats are found on the cliffs of Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast, being descendants of those brought in by the first European Explorers. Black-tailed deer were introduced in 1961 for hunting and are found primarily on western Kauai. Feral dogs, cats, rats and mice are the only other mammals you may encounter in the wild. Mongooses are not found on Kauai as they are on most of the other main islands. Kauai has no poisonous snakes, and only one small introduced non-poisonous snake, that is often mistaken for an earthworm. Toads, bullfrogs, and the small wrinkled frogs are common in wetland streams and ponds.

ALAKAI SWAMP WILDERNESS PRESERVE (PART OF THE NA PALI-KONA FOREST RESERVE)
Accessible by trail only. 1/4 mile north of the Na Pali-Kona Forest Reserve Entrance. Kokee Road (Hwy 550).
(West Side)
The once-fiery crater at the top of Mt. Waialeale is now the Alakai Swamp - a magnificent bog located in a wet depression below Mt. Waialeale summit - a superior wildland that is the highest and largest high-elevation swamp in the world. A trail leads across the swamp through scrub native rain forest and shallow bogs. The swamp is home to seldom seen rare plants and native birds and there are excellent opportunities for bird and botany observation. The trail ends at a vista called "Kilohana" on the edge of Wainiha Pali. On a clear day, the views of Wainiha and Hanalei Valleys provide for an unforgettable experience. If you hike this route, be sure to wear appropriate clothing. There is boardwalk but the trail is often wet, slippery and very muddy. The seven rivers that trail out from Alakai Swamp and down to the sea include the Waimea River, Hawaii's longest river.

KOKEE STATE PARK
15 miles north of Kekaha on Kokee Road (Hwy 550) at 3600 feet elevation; adjoins Waimea Canyon State Park.
(West Side)
Commanding views of the lush, amphitheater-headed Kalalau Valley from 4000 feet elevation. Wildland picnicking, tent camping, trailer camping and lodging. Hiking in native rain forest and along rim of Waimea Canyon; additional trails in neighboring forest reserves. Excellent area for study of native plants, forest birds and insects. Seasonal plum picking and trout fishing. Pig hunting in public hunting area. 4,345.0 acres.

HANALEI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Viewed from the Hanalei Valley Overlook, just past the Princeville Turnoff on Highway 56 (Kuhio Hwy) across from the Princeville Shopping Center. Note: Visitors can get marvelous views of wildlife by driving along Ohiki Road, a county river road. Just after crossing the large Hanalei Bridge, continue driving straight onto Ohiki Road. Public access into the refuge is prohibited.
(North Shore)
One of the most photographed spots in Hawaii, Hanalei Valley - an enchanted place. Established as a Wildlife Refuge in 1972 to provide habitat for native Hawaiian waterbirds, including the native Hawaiian duck, coot, moorhen, and stilt. Over 900 acres have been set aside to allow native waterbirds to reclaim their ancient nesting grounds. Taro is grown on the refuge by local farmers, continuing a practice that stretches back over 1,000 years in the Valley. Like the waterbirds, this tradition is endangered today. Since 1900 the acreage planted in taro has declined by over 95 percent in Hawaii. On July 30, 1998, the Hanalei River which starts high on the slopes of Mount Waialeale and flows over 16 miles through Hanalei Valley to Hanalei Bay, was designated as an American Heritage River, one of only 14 rivers nationwide selected to receive this classification.

HULEIA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Viewed from the Menehune Fishpond Overlook. From Lihue, go south on Rice Street (which turns into Waapa Road) towards Nawiliwili Harbor, near Kalapaki Beach. Approximately 1/2 mile from the Harbor, turn right at the Menehune Fish Pond sign onto Hulemalu Road. Continue 0.6 mile to the Overlook on your left. To protect sensitive species, the refuge is not open to the public.
(Lihue-Kalapaki)
The Refuge includes 238 acres of wooded slopes and bottomlands along the Huleia River purchased in 1973 by the Fish and Wildlife Service to provide habitat for Hawaii's endangered waterbirds. When the land was acquired it was badly overgrown with introduced plants, limiting its value to wildlife. Management goals include creating areas of open water, replacing introduced plants with native vegetation, restoring old taro patches, and creating nesting areas which are safe from predators. These efforts will entice endangered waterbirds to new breeding and feeding areas.

KILAUEA POINT NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Located on the northernmost tip of Kauai. From Lihue drive north on Kuhio Highway (Hwy 56) for approximately 23 miles to the town of Kilauea, turn right on Kolo Road, then left on Kilauea Road to the Refuge entrance.
(North Shore)
Tel. (808) 828-1413
One of the most spectacular sections of shoreline in the Hawaiian Islands. Built in 1913, Kilauea Lighthouse stands as a monument to Hawaii's colorful past - placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The Visitor Center features interpretive displays and dioramas about native Hawaiian habitats and wildlife. Bookstore. Admission charge. Call (808) 828-0168.
  • One of the best places on the main Hawaiian islands to view the nesting colonies of Central Pacific seabirds against a dramatic backdrop of steep cliffs plunging to the ocean. During the nesting season, visitors can even see birds courting and feeding chicks.
  • Hawaii's state bird, the "nene", is sometimes seen foraging in grassy areas.
  • Introduced species such as doves, cardinals, sparrows are also common on the refuge. Some introduced birds, such as cattle egrets, mynahs, and feral chickens, impact native birds on the refuge by spreading disease, pecking seabird eggs, and competing for nesting habitat.
  • Groups of spinner dolphins play close to shore in spring and summer, entertaining visitors with dramatic leaps and spins.
  • Endangered humpback whales, which migrate from Alaska to Hawaii each year to mate, give birth, and rear their young, can be seen December through April. To help protect this magnificent animal, the waters off Kilauea Point were designated a National Marine Sanctuary in 1992.
  • Hawaiian monk seals sometimes haul out on rocks below the cliffs. Most of these endangered seals live in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and have become a rare sight on Hawaii's main islands.
  • Native Hawaiian coastal plants - naupaka, ilima, hala, aheahea, akoko, and others - have been restored on the refuge. In addition, an endangered plant restoration program is giving species such as the rare alula a chance to survive on Kilauea Point's protected and managed environment.

NA PALI-KONA FOREST RESERVE
For access West of Highway 550 - Kokee Road. Day use only.
(West Side)

  • AWAAWAPUHI TRAIL   (3.25 miles) The trail starts at a parking area near the highway 17 Mile Marker. This forest reserve area is managed as wilderness because of the rich variety of native dryland plant species thriving in it (a plant guide is available). The trail ends abruptly on the ridge top, at 2,500 ft. elevation, affording spectacular views down sheer palis (cliffs) into Awaawapuhi and Nualolo Valleys overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The grassy area at the end of the trail provides an excellent place to picnic. DANGER: Do not venture beyond the safety railing at the end of the trail! The footing is extremely unstable, and the drop to the valley floor below is over 2,000 feet.

WAIMEA CANYON STATE PARK
11.1 miles north of Kekaha on Kokee Road (Hwy 550); adjoins Kokee State Park.
(West Side)
At Waimea Canyon Lookout, famous for its spectacular views of "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific", visitors can see iliau, an odd yucca-like native plant, white-tailed tropicbirds, and pueo (short-eared owls). Native forest birds can sometimes be seen at the Puu Hinahina lookout.

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