Birds of Kauai, Hawaii – List of Native Forest, Wetlands and Sea Birds, Migratory Species

Brown Booby bird of Kauai, Hawaii

The Hawaiian island of Kauai is renowned for its natural beauty. It is an excellent location for common birdwatching and boasts a number of impressive bird species. You might spot, amongst other species, the following birds:

Native Forest Birds

Unfortunately, Hawaii’s honeycreepers and other native birds have declined considerably due to a range of factors, including introduced diseases and predators and other human activity. But fortunately, there are still plenty of native forest birds to be found here. These include:

  • Akialoa
  • Aki’apola’au
  • Akikiki (The Kauai Creeper)
  • Anianiau
  • Apapane
  • Hawaii Elepaio
  • I’iwi
  • Kauai Amakihi
  • Kauai Elepaio
  • Oma’o
  • Puaiohi (Kauai Small Thrush)
  • Pueo (Hawaiian Owl)

Koke’e State and especially the Pihua Trail is a great place to spot these native woodland species.

Native Wetland Birds

Fortunately, Kauai’s native wetland birds have fared better than those on Hawaii’s other islands. All the native wetland birds that were found here in 1778 can still be found here today – largely due to the fact that there are no mongoose here. This destructive predator has decimated the bird life on other islands. Refuges and nature reserves are protecting and expanding precious wetland areas. Wetland birds native to Kauai include:

  • Ae-o (Hawaiian Stilt)
  • Alae ke’o ke’o (Hawaiian Coot)
  • Alae ‘ula (Hawaiian Gallinule)
  • Auku’u (Black-crowned Night Heron)
  • Koloa Maoli (Hawaiian Duck)
  • Nene (Hawaiian Goose)

Great places to spot these species include Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, Hanapepe Salt Pond, Kawaiele Bird Sanctuary, Kauai Lagoons and Smith’s Tropical Paradise on the Wailua River.


Seabirds are a common sight in the skies and on the waters around the island. On a visit here you might see:

  • Brown Booby
  • Red-Footed Booby
  • A’o (Newell Shearwater)
  • Bulwer’s Petrel
  • Cook’s Petrel
  • Hawaiian Petrel
  • Iwa (Great Frigatebird)
  • Koa’e kea (White-tailed Tropicbird)
  • Koa’e ‘ula (Red-tailed Tropicbird)
  • Moli (Laysan Albatross)
  • Ua’u kani (Wedge-tailed Shearwater)

You can see a wide range of seabirds all around the coast of the island, but one of the very best spots for birdwatching is Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

Migratory Birds

A wide range of migratory birds also visit Hawaii each winter. This is an interesting time for birdwatchers to visit the island, as it can be interesting to see which feathered visitors show up. Migratory birds on Kauai include:

  • Black bellied plover
  • Bonaparte’s Gull
  • Bristle-thighed Curlew
  • Cackling Goose
  • Canada Goose
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Killdeer
  • Laughing Gull
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Long-Billed Dowitcher
  • Mallard
  • Northern Pintail
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Pacific Golden Plover
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Readhead
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Ring-becked Duck
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Sanderling
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Sharp-Tailed Sandpiper
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Wandering Tattler
  • White-faced Ibis
  • Wilson’s Snipe

Introduced Birds

On Kauai, you will not only be able to see native and migrating birds, but also a range of other birds that were introduced to the island from other regions, by those who colonized the island over its long and fascinating history. There is a lot more to learn about the birds of Kauai – so why not visit the island and discover them for yourself?

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