Review of The Birdwatcher’s Guide to Hawai’i

Stacia and I are honeymooning in May in Hawaii (Kaua’i and the Big Island). We have been researching all sorts of information on the natural areas we hope to explore. The following is a review of a book I received for Christmas, The Birdwatcher’s Guide to Hawai’i by Rick Soehren.

Although it was published in 1996, The Birdwatcher’s Guide to Hawai’i is still a valuable resource to birders. Much of the core information and locations are still applicable while some of the specific details are no longer accurate.

The main Hawaiian islands are covered with site-specific birding locations: O’ahu, Kaua’i, the Big Island, Maui, Molka’i, and Lana’i. Over 60 top birding sites are included.

The first chapter on “Hawaiian Birding Basics” is a must read and covers a lot of the pertinent questions for visiting birders. The advice on how to get around and how to prepare is most valuable. Many questions/concerns I hadn’t even thought of were answered along with commonly thought of questions about renting cars and what to bring on hikes.

There is also superb coverage of the Hawaiian alphabet which explains how to pronounce the many new sounds. I am practicing this regularly but definitely still a work in progress!

The Birdwatcher’s Guide to Hawai’i also covers the pronunciation of some Hawaiian birds as well as a list of alternate bird names (such as ‘Io = Hawaiian Hawk and Nene = Hawaiian Goose). Sections on the natural history of Hawaii as well as info on introduced species, impacts on native species, and how you can help native Hawaiian birds round out the information before the chapters on birding locations begins.

Each island covered has a chapter detailing the main areas to go birding with more details on specific spots in each area. There are some trails and maps included but we do wish there were more of them.

We also wish there were more photos of birds accompanying the locations. There is a small section of color photographs in the middle and a few black and white images throughout but extras here would be most helpful.

The Birdwatcher’s Guide to Hawai’i is easy to use and highly informative. Reading the sections on Kaua’i and the Big Island have given us a great start on where we want to concentrate our birding efforts as we explore what we expect to be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

One thought on “Review of The Birdwatcher’s Guide to Hawai’i

  1. Wow, that’s going to be a terrific trip! I hope you can get on those elusive, endangered endemics.

    You might enjoy the book Seeking the Sacred Raven, which examines the terrible plight of the Hawaiian Crow and other native species. I reviewed it back in 2007.

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