The first and only time we have seen a Hoopoe was a random encounter last year in a hilltop park in Barcelona, Spain. We heard some scratching around in the brush, which is common in Hawaii when you encounter feral chickens, paused to investigate and there it was. Turns out the Hoopoe can be found around mainland Asia, India, and Africa, as well as Southern Europe. A few hops and pecks later, this one was gone and we now wonder if we’ll ever see another.
We see Cattle Egrets all day, to the point that we often don’t even really see them anymore as they hunt for geckos and other little critters in the yard or the park. But every once in a while one stands out somehow and we’re reminded of how pretty their simple colors can be.
Some Rose Ringed Parakeets, or Green Parrots as they are commonly called here, have begun visiting our backyard bird feeder. It’s pretty comical to see them clamber around like monkeys to access the feeder, which was designed for much smaller birds. They’re an invasive species, for sure, but they’ve become pretty ubiquitous on Oahu at this point. They’re colorful but loud, and certainly not graceful.
The Mariana Fruit Dove has been wiped out on Guam as a result of invasive Brown Tree Snakes and habitat loss, and these beautiful birds are highly endangered in the Northern Mariana Islands too. There are no snakes here in Hawaii unless they are smuggled in or stowaway in a plane, ship, or cargo container, which actually happens quite a bit. Just the other day a Garter Snake was discovered in a shipment of Christmas trees that arrived here. It would be wonderful if the birds at the Honolulu Zoo could help repopulate the species on Guam, but Guam would have to get rid of the snakes first, and that seems very, very difficult.
A young Aukuu scanned the muck-covered pond for something to snap at. They wait patiently for long periods and then strike with lighting speed when they spot the right victim just below the surface.
The Red-billed Leiothrix is one of my favorite non-native birds in Hawaii. These colorful little guys are sure to make their presence known when you stumble upon them in the forest, as they will hop around and loudly chatter to sound the alarm that an intruder is present.
Huey and Avery are two of the African Penguins who took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at the Honolulu Zoo. We tend to associate penguins with snow and ice, but these guys seem to be doing just fine in our tropical climate. In fact, they have it pretty good here and get hand-fed in between belly-flops.
He’s not quite as lovable at Toucan Sam, but the King Vulture is colorful and majestic and has a large enclosure all to himself at the Honolulu Zoo. A sign there warns that he bites fingers! In the wild, King Vultures soar for hours in the skies above Central and South America looking for carrion, and sometimes for injured or dying prey. I guess somebody’s got to do it to keep that stuff from piling up and spreading disease and whatnot.
The Sun Conures are among the most colorful birds at the Honolulu Zoo. These South American beauties are in a way cursed by their colorful plumage, however, as they are relentlessly hunted and captured for the pet trade, and are also endangered by loss of habitat. There are said to be more Sun Conures now living in captivity than in the wild.
The African Spoonbill is native to marshes, swamps, lakes, and rivers in southern Africa, and the Honolulu Zoo is lucky to have several fine specimens.