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Hawaii’s new birding trail and festival

ʻIʻiwi on Hawaii Island, January 2013, by Laure Wilson Neish.
ʻIʻiwi on Hawaii Island, January 2013, by Laure Wilson Neish.

Birders will soon find it easier to locate birds on Hawaii Island, thanks to the new Hawaii Island Coast to Coast Birding Trail.

When completed later this year, the trail will be 90 miles long and cross the Big Island from Kona, on the west coast, to Hilo, on the east. It will link a national park, two state parks, several forest reserves, two county parks, a national wildlife refuge, several public trails, and local businesses.

Hawaii Island Birding Trail LogoThe trail is being modeled after similar trails in North America, say the developers. Its route will link a network of sites, so users can join or leave at any point along the way. Birds will be the focal points, but Hawaii’s unique plants and trees, geology, history, and scenic viewpoints will also be highlighted.

It is envisioned that the Hawaii Island Coast to Coast Birding Trail could be expanded in time to incorporate other areas of Hawaii and link to other heritage corridors and scenic byways, thus creating a larger Hawaii Island Nature Trail Network.

A team of volunteers with knowledge of the Big Island’s birdlife and natural history are creating the trail. The team also includes travel-industry marketing professionals, logistics experts, and interpretive-planning specialists.

“Hawaii Island is a worldwide treasure combining both endemic species and introduced birdlife from five continents,” says Rob Pacheco, a member of the trail’s steering committee. “We want to make sure people in Hawaii and around the world have the tools and accurate information to experience these wonders in a way that is safe and culturally and environmentally appropriate.”


Hawaii Island Festival of Birds – Ha’akula Manu

Mark your calendar! A new birding festival is being planned to celebrate the creation of the trail. The inaugural Hawaii Island Festival of Birds will take place September 24-25, 2016, at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.

Sam Gon III, a senior scientist and cultural advisor with the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, will be a featured speaker, and Brian Sullivan, the eBird project leader, will demonstrate the benefits of sharing bird sightings via the website.

Sullivan is a co-author of the book Better Birding: Tips, Tools, and Concepts for the Field (Princeton University Press, 2015). He is also the photographic editor for Birds of North America Online and a coauthor of The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors (Princeton, 2013) and, with seabird expert Steve N. G. Howell, of Offshore Sea Life ID Guide: East Coast and West Coast (Princeton, 2015).


Festival-goers will also enjoy guided fieldtrips on land and sea, a trade show, a children’s corner, a bird-themed arts-and-crafts fair, and photography and painting workshops, while having time to interact with Hawaii Island naturalists and bird experts.

Download details about festival schedule, speakers, and tickets (PDF).

Get updates about the new Hawaii Island Coast to Coast Birding Trail.

Tips for birding Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, on Kauai.


Tips and directions to the ‘Aiea Loop Trail, Aiea, Oahu.


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Originally Published