Hawaii Birding: Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
A Hawaii birding hotspot, Kilauea Point NWR offers the chance to see thousands of seabirds alongside a picturesque lighthouse.
Hawaii birding can be a bit of a challenge. Due to their isolated nature, the islands never abounded in a great variety of songbirds, and the numbers have dropped dramatically in the last hundred years or so. Long hikes may yield only half a dozen native species scattered about. So bird-lovers will find Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on the island of Kauai to be a revelation. The nearby cliffs are so packed with seabirds that even non-birders are amazed. Frigatebirds wheel overhead, fighting for food. The massive Laysan Albatross nests here in the winter and spring, and it’s a refuge for the endangered Hawaiian Nene goose. Add in the migratory seabirds that flock here in the thousands and the lovely lighthouse, and you’ve got a Hawaii birding hotspot not to be missed.
The lighthouse itself was built in 1913, but seabirds have called this point home for millennia. In 1985, the area was designated a national wildlife refuge to protect the amazing bird population. The refuge is accessible to all visitors, with an easy walk up from the parking lot along a paved road to the lighthouse and viewing areas. Along the way, you’ll catch your first view of the bird-covered cliffs. At first, it’s easy to mistake all the white spots on the cliffs for flowers. But a closer look with binoculars or a zoom lens reveals the truth: those are all birds. Red-footed Boobies live here in the thousands.
As you continue your walk up the cliffs, birds float overhead and down below. Great Frigatebirds soar and dive, fighting other birds for their catches. Wedge-tailed Shearwaters perch on the closer cliffs and even the fences. In the shelter of trees and grassy meadows, Nene geese forage for food alongside Golden Plover. During the winter, migratory birds swell the numbers as albatross return to rest and breed. Birds are everywhere at Kilauea Point, making it a Hawaii birding delight.
This picturesque point is also an excellent place to watch marine wildlife. Spinner dolphins and humpback whales swim and jump offshore. This is also one of the few places on the main Hawaiian islands to spot the rare and endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal.
Learn much more about this Hawaii birding hotspot by visiting the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge website.