Each year, starting in late summer, Hawai‘i is visited by the kolea. The kolea, also known as the Pacific golden plover, fly non-stop from nesting grounds in Alaska to Hawai‘i, which is about 3,000 miles away.
Although kolea are shorebirds, they actually prefer to hang out on lawns, fields, parks and rooftops. We learned from the Hawai‘i Nature Center that kolea don’t like places with plants taller than their eyes because they can’t see approaching predators.
Kolea are territorial and return to the same spot year after year. The birds can live about 20 years so if you noticed one in your yard last year and there’s one again this year, it’s likely the same one!
Kolea fatten up while in Hawai‘i by eating mollusks, insects, worms and lizards. They also start growing their breeding plumage in about February when their brown and grey feathers turn black on their bellies and speckled gold on their backs. Males bellies turn completely black.
Many folks in Hawai‘i associate the arrival of kolea with the arrival of the Humpback whale, so it’s never too early to start looking!