31 Days of Life in my Hawaii Day 5:: Critters: Kolea

Those of you in the Northern Hemisphere perhaps are familiar with migratory birds who fly south for the winter.

Since we’re, well, sort of the south, most of our birds don’t really go anywhere in the winter. They pretty much stick around all year long. There is one migratory bird, however, who spends winters here and flies north to Alaska for the summers: kolea, the Pacific golden plover.

photo credit: alohafriendsluau.com

The story of how this little critter does this every year is fascinating:

Maybe because they are only here for part of each year, we have a special fondness for kolea. Also, their personalities and proclivities make them intriguing to observe.

For one thing, they tend to be solitary: they don’t hang around with others of their kind. It’s almost as if they take great pride in their own self-reliance. Or maybe they’re just not friendly.

For another, they’re very territorial. They have their favorite spots to alight and graze for food, and not only do they tend to camp out in that spot for the months they are here, but woe to the bird who tries to move in on that space — almost certainly a fight will ensue.

And, as with other birds, they tend to be standoffish towards people. They are really hard to get near to; I see several along the way on my morning walk, but every time I try to get a picture of one, no matter how quiet and cautious I am, it will give me a stink eye and fly away.

In spite of all this general antisocialness, people get excited each August to see “their” birds back in their neighborhoods, and feel a certain sadness when the last one leaves in April. It somehow feels like a kind of blessing when you have one that makes your property its winter habitat.

The other day as I was leaving the house, I saw “our” kolea checking out our front yard for worms:

Kolea won’t let me get too close. Maybe he just wants me to get out of “his” yard.

Here in Hawaii we love our kolea. Do you feel that way about your migratory birds?

This is the fifth post in my series, 31 Days of Life in my Hawaii. Click here to get the links to the other posts in the series.

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One thought on “31 Days of Life in my Hawaii Day 5:: Critters: Kolea

  1. Debbie

    They must have to be standoffish in order to be so independent in taking care of themselves! That’s so incredible that they can fly for 88 hours straight. I’ve always wondered myself how birds in general know when I start putting out bird seed again.

    Reply

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