Oahu birds are TOUGH

Maybe its just me, but my targeted Oahu birds – and Kauai birds previously, have been much harder to track down than was the case in 2016. I had to work hard for all three endemic forest birds, and as far as the Mariana Swiftlets are concerned – I give up. And that doesn’t happen often. There are very few photo-evidenced sightings any more, and I have heard that the population estimate is now down to 12. More about that in captions below.

I’m in Dallas airport at the moment. Its 5:30am, and I’ve just arrived on the red-eye from Oahu, quitting in disgust on the swiftlets, and hoping to find the Green-breasted Mango (a large Mexican hummingbird) in McAllen in a few hours, and hold out hope that the Northern Jacana, also found in Sth Texas a few days ago will be findable.


The ‘Aiea Ridge Trail provides the best vantage point for watching for Mariana Swiftlets flittering over surrounding ridges and valleys. Besides myself, I know of several other birders who have put in multiple days hoping to score one of the dwindling numbers of this translocated population (from Guam) of this highly endangered species.


This is the mysterious WWII vintage tunnel within which the remaining Hawaiian translocated Mariana Swiftlets breed. Despite consdiderable effort, I wasn’t able to locate it – yet. Somebody needs to see what is going on – e.g. has the population completely disappeared, perhaps due to rat predation?


The swiftlet tunnel is located in the upper left area of this photo. The super-busy twin carriageway of Highway H3 disappears into twin tunnels. The traffic creates a great deal of noice throughout the entire valley – perhaps that has been a factor in the decline of swiftlet numbers in recent decades?


Oahu Amakihi.


Oahu Elepaios are super-hard to find these days. Thankfully, I got a tipoff of a family group in the Wailupe Valley.


Another member of the small group of Oahu Elepaios I crossed tracks with. A very high proportion of the rarest of Hawaiian birds I encountered this year are wearing jewellery.



African Silverbill. This was a tougher bird than I’d expected; I found it at the fourth site I searched.


Red-vented Bulbul