Manu Minute: The bristle-thighed curlew
Like the kōlea, kioea travel to Hawaiʻi for the winter. While adults generally fly back to Alaska to breed in early May, juveniles prefer a longer holiday. They can stay in the islands for up to three years before returning to Alaska for their first breeding season.
As a result, you can spot kioea year-round in Hawaiʻi, primarily in typical shorebird habitats like wetlands, shorelines, and grassy areas — not to mention the odd golf course.
You'll still have to get a little bit lucky to catch a glimpse of one of these long-billed birds. They favor the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, where there are fewer predators to contend with. They're especially vulnerable when they're molting, as they can't fly until they have a full coat of feathers.
But kioea have been visiting the main Hawaiian islands for hundreds of years. In fact, they're one of a handful of birds mentioned in the Kumulipo. The word “kioea” means to stand high, as on long legs.
Kioea share their name with an endemic Hawaiian bird, which went extinct over one hundred years ago. The last specimen of its species was collected in 1859.
Audio credit: Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML207298)