Birds, fish and wildlife of Hawaii

In November 2018, we visited Big Island with the aim of seeing some of their endemic species. Indeed, the palila, apapane, iiwi, amakihi, omao, akialoaau, Hawaiian coot, Hawaiian goose (locally called the Nene) and the akiapolaau were found with the help of a local guide. We also visited some well-known birdwatching sites on Maui. A number of bird species were introduced over time on both islands and are commonly seen in parks or on resorts. Game birds were particularly abundant, and sightings included the Kalij phaesant, ring-necked phaesant, gray, Erckel's and black francolin, as well as California quail. The short-eared owl was seen on both islands, often flying low over the land.

View from the edge of Pololu Valley, north of Big Island.

In the months preceding our visit, the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park erupted with lava flows reaching the ocean on the SouthEast side of Big Island. These fissures in the road on the edge of Kilauea Volcano's crater were created during the 2018 volcanic eruptions. The road was closed to traffic but was accessible by foot during our visit.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island.

In addition to birds, we also photographed some of their wildlife and fish. The bluefin trevally is the most common large jack in Hawaii. The following photos were captured while snorkeling with a GoPro Hero7 camera.

Bluefin trevally

Fourspot Butterflyfish, in Maui.

Ornate butterflyfish in Maui.

Yellow Tang in Maui.

Green Sea Turtle Green Sea Turtle, Maui.

As I was snorkeling close to Black Rock, Maui, this green turtle passed by me, undisturbed by my presence. It caught some air at the surface before vanishing slowly from by reach. The moment was captured with the GoPro Hero 7.

Endemic Bird Species

The Nene, or the Hawaiian goose (Bernache néné), is an endemic bird of Hawaii. We found them on Big Island and on Maui.

Apapane (Picchion cramoisi), Maui.

Iiwi (Iiwi rouge), an endemic species, on Big Island.

Palila (Psittirostre palila), an endemic and critically-endangered species of Hawaii. The species can only be found on the Mauna Kea, also known as the largest mountain in the world.

Akiapolaau (french: Akiapolaau d'Hawai), a rare and endemic species of Hawaii.

Omao (Solitaire d'Hawaï)

Hawaiian coot (Foulque des Hawaï ) on Big Island. Endemic species.

Game Birds

Gray francolin (Francolin gris) on Big Island.

Chukar (Perdrix choukar), Maui, Hawaii.

Erckel's Francolin (Francolin d'Erckel) on Big Island.

Kalij Pheasant (Faisan leucomèle) on Big Island of Hawaii.

Common birds

African Siverbill (Capucin bec-d'argent), Kamuela, Big Island.

The Pacific Golden-Plover (Pluvier fauve) were commonly seen on Big Island.

Saffron Finch (Sicale bouton-d'or), Big Island.

Yellow-billed cardinal (Paroare à bec jaune) on Big Island.

Zebra dove (Géopélie zébrée), Big Island.

House sparrow (moineau domestique) on Maui.

Birds of Prey

The short-eared owl (Hibou des marais) was a common sighting on Big Island and Maui, soaring above the fields and open land in search for prey. This one, perched on a wire by the road, had located a prey and was waiting patiently to make a move.


Hoover J.P. 2008. Ultimate Guide - Hawaiian Reef Fishes, Sea Turtles, Dolphins, Whales, and Seals. Mutual Publishing, Honolulu, hawai'i. 388 pp.

Hawai'i Audubon Society 1989. Hawaii's Birds. Hawai'i Audubon Society, Honolulu, Hawai'i. 112 pp.

Pratt H.D., P.L. Bruner and D.G. Berrett. 1987. A field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton Univerity Press, Princeton, New Jersey. 409 pp + 45 plates.