Saturday, August 22, 2009
THE BIRDS ARE BACK IN TOWN
Last week we spotted the first Kolea (it's Hawaiian name) or Pacific Golden Plover of the season. They start showing up around mid-August and hang out here all winter and depart again around May. They spend the summer in Alaska which is a 2500 mile non-stop flight for theses little birds. The Kolea heads to Alaska for mating and returns to Hawai'i when their young have hatched and are ready to follow. Some Kolea continue another 2500 miles to Samoa and other South Pacific islands. Most adults arrive in Hawai'i in August, while juveniles arrive in October.
It is said that they return to the same spot every year and we hope that the Kolea that hang out in our yard all season are the same ones we have been seeing the last 2 1/2 years. They are not one bit afraid of me when I am on the lawnmower and actually follow me around waiting for bugs to be exposed in the cut grass, but are not as brave when I'm on foot. I always find that odd since I walk up slowly and quietly and the lawnmower is so loud and fast. How do they know the lawnmower = food? The myna birds also love it and today I even had a cattle egret which is really rare to have that close.
Standing about 9" tall, the Kolea forage in a peck-and-run method - running quickly in an upright position, pausing to peck, then running again. They rarely take flight unless at the end of the day to go nest for the night or if they are startled. I have determined that this is either they are soooooooo tired from the 2500 mile flight or they are already storing up energy for the trip back next May. We have up to 4 at a time, but they hang out in different parts of the yard and are rarely seen in pairs. In the evenings they pair up and fly off together making a sweet little squeaky chirp of a song.
It's so hard to get a good shot of them up close (I keep telling myself this is why I need that telephoto lens) but here are a few shots from today after I mowed the lawn and 2 I found online to show just how cute they are up close.