Never wanting to miss a lighthouse in our travels, after a nice hike in the Northwestern part of Kauai, we stopped over at the Kilauea Lighthouse on the way home to our rental. Due to the title of the blog post, you might be thinking that it was a terrible experience with a less than noteworthy lighthouse to view. Thankfully this was not the case! Right along side the Kilauea Lighthouse is a National Wildlife Refuge, and happens to be one of the best places to view nesting seabirds among the Hawaiian Islands, so it really is…For the Birds! We were delighted to see and learn about the birds native to the area. We also happily realized that our entrance to the lighthouse and refuge would be free in celebration of Veteran’s Day.
Aside from the usual jungle fowl, we saw and learned about three birds in particular.
- The NeNe (Hawaiian Goose)
Protected under the endangered species act, this Hawaiian State Bird was actually the easiest to spot. We were able to get up close, and they didn’t mind (too much) being harassed by our overly-friendly toddler. We often saw them in pairs. Thanks to some more observant visiting photographers, I got to see one hiding in the bushes below the visitor’s center.
- The ‘Iwa (Great Frigate Birds)
To see the ‘Iwa, we just had to look up. We spotted them soaring above probably in search of food, but they also seemed to go wherever the wind took them. We learned that their Hawaiian name (‘Iwa) actually translates to thief! While they can get their food from grabbing fish and squid from the surface of the water, they also are known to snatch food away from other birds, probably due to their inadequacies at fishing blamed on their short legs and large wing span. This body structure makes it hard for them to take off from the water.
- The ‘A (Red-Footed Boobie)
We saw these guys from afar roosting in the trees across the bay. If we looked closely (or just used the provided telescope), we could just barely make out the signature red feet. They are the smallest of all the “boobie” birds, are great at flying, and are also pretty good at fishing.
Our short and sweet visit to Kilauea Point Lighthouse & Wildlife Refuge proved to be the perfect little stopover. It was easy and safe for Bergen to run around, and we got to see and learn all about some very special natural features of Hawaii. Inside the visitor’s center is a 3-D map of all of the Hawaiian Islands, and gives a great perspective of the island chain as a whole. We also used it to help us decide which island to visit next!
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