Hawaii is known as the endangered species capital of the world, drawing visitors from around the world hoping for a glimpse of some of the rarest birds in the world. Enjoy a day of exploration as we visit the heart of Hawaii Island, and pay a visit to unique locations that still teem with Hawaii’s native birds while enjoying the natural beauty on the largest volcanoes on earth. We will search two separate locations to see Palila and Akiapola’au, two of the world’s most amazing critically endangered birds in all of the islands. If you’re a birdwatcher or just enjoy nature, you’ll be astounded at the beauty of these birds. This tour will take you far away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas, giving you a rare chance to see the hidden nature of Hawaii Island and understand its delicate balance in the middle of the pacific.
Tours depart at 6am from pickup locations along the Kona/Kohala Coast. Departure times can vary.
The Endangered Birds of Hawaii adventure travels mauka (inland) from the west coast of the island making our way towards the Saddle road area. Along the way, you will get to learn about the amazing variety of habitats, past and present, found on Hawaii Island. Learn how the island was formed and has changed since western contact.
The tour takes us along the old “Saddle road” area, home to many different birds including Pueo, Pheasants, and Francolins which are fun to spot as the tour winds its way up into the Saddle area between Maunaloa and Maunakea. Around 8:00 AM to the Pu’u La’au area at just over 7000’ in elevation is on the lower slopes of Maunakea and offers a beautiful view of Maunaloa across the saddle area.
After a briefing, we begin exploring the area looking and listening for Palila. Consider by many to be a jewel of the Hawaiian bird population and its dwindling numbers make it a must-see bird while visiting the island.
After spending time with the birds and plants here, we make our way to the Pu’u O’o area on the lower slopes of Maunaloa where we begin a 1-mile hike to a kipuka (a native forest oasis) to visit with more of our native species. As we meander through the beautiful native Koa and Ohia trees, we use our senses to capture views of ‘Akiapola’au, another of Hawaii’s endangered and interestingly adapted birds. This region also allows us views of the ‘Io, our native hawk, and other more common and endemic birds including I’iwi and ‘Apapane.
Lunch is usually served in the kipuka so guests can enjoy the sounds of our native forests while taking their mid-day break.
When our day of exploration comes to an end we begin our hike back to the vehicle. After some refreshments, guests relax in comfort as they car-bird on the way home.
An additional stop is made at the Mauna Kea Recreation Area on the way home to stretch, chat and have a rest stop before continuing back the Kona/Kohala Coast area.
*Guests must be able to hike at least a couple of miles round trip over level to undulating ground.