As an avid bird lover, I now notice fascinating new species of birds whenever I travel, and although I can’t really say that any of the unusual types I spotted in Hawaii are among my “favorite” birds, I thought it would be fun to share what I discovered with you. Hawaii’s state bird is the Nehe Goose, and they are inveterate beggars. There are signs at Haleakala National Park asking people to refrain from giving in to their wiles, so I thought this must be a Nehe Goose at the summit. Wrong! It’s an Alectoris chukar! Mourning Doves are common throughout the world, and Hawaii is no exception, but even more common there are the colorful, smaller zebra doves. Mainland Americans are used to ruby-red cardinals, but Hawaii hosts a very attractive cousin known as the Red-crested Cardinal. I’m used to sandpipers dodging waves along ocean shorelines, but in Hawaii, they also mosey across the lawns at famous resorts! At the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge we spotted a number of Ae’o birds. These long-legged birds are an endangered Hawaiian relative of the Black-necked Stilts seen on mudflats in the western U.S., so you might not see them unless you’re near a fresh water pond at the right moment. I’ll bet even young kids will recognize this fat sassy: a feral rooster. Wild chickens roam everywhere in Hawaii. You may remember that when my son Michael lived in Hawaii, he and his kids nicknamed one “Nuggets” and prepared him for Sunday dinner one day. (Grace had nothing to do with this, I assure you.) BTW, have you ever figured out why the chicken crossed the road? To lay it on the line? To be poultry in motion?… Got any better ideas? I’ve heard that chickens in Hawaii dream of a better day when people will stop questioning their motives and just hang loose! 🙂 Of all the birds we saw in Hawaii, the most common were the myna birds. They sang in the trees while we ate breakfast on our balcony each morning. They look a lot like robins from the back…about the same size and coloring, but when you see a good closeup, it’s obvious they’re distinctly different. Myna birds are members of the starling family and transplants from Southeast Asia and India. The name “myna” is from Sanskrit, madanā, which means “an intoxicating drink.” I’ve not read the reasoning behind their name, but my guess is it has something to do with their garbled speech. They make an amazing number of vocalizations…everything from whistles and shrieks to very melodious bird songs that can change in an instant into sounding just like a human having a very solemn conversation. In captivity they learn to mimic people, and in Hawaii I noticed that they liked doing exactly what everybody else was doing:
They frequent the most fashionable resorts and like to eat out at the best restaurants. (Here they are, waiting with us for seats at Mama’s Fish House.) They like to stroll the beaches with us and beachcombing is one of their favorite pastimes. They spend a lot of time on the golf courses, but they’re definitely into water sports too. Like all of us, they check out the best parking spots, and they just love getting together with their friends. I’ve read that myna birds are attentive parents. They were virtually always traveling in pairs when we saw them, and they generally mate for life. (Even if they do seem a little grumpy at times.) Maybe instead of just myna birds mimicking people, we’d also be wise to mimic myna birds!