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Krazy for Kolea Kontest

By Arleone Dibben-Young

It’s time for the 23rd annual Krazy for Kolea Kontest to report the return on the kolea, Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) to Molokai. The bird is revered in Hawaiian mythology as Koleamoku, a messenger of high chiefs, and was considered to be the embodiment of the god of healing. On their northern migration, kolea may have aided ancient navigators with the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. Within a few weeks, the kolea will make a southbound transoceanic migration between breeding grounds in Alaska to wintering locales as far away as
Madagascar. Research using light level dataloggers have tracked kolea at speeds from 36 to118 miles per hour, and with an average flight between Hawaii and Alaska taking 40 hours.

Earliest returnees to Hawaii are typically females that may have experienced a failed nesting attempt or perhaps did not bond with a mate for the breeding season. Adult males normally appear by the end of August, followed by juveniles in October. The kolea is easily recognized by its bold black and white breeding plumage called “alternate,” however, this is lost by winter.
Kolea are long-lived (20-plus years), territorial and annually return to the same location. This returning behavior was first recognized by Max Schlemmer on Laysan Island, whose “Old Stump Leg,” a one-legged kolea, returned annually in the early 1900s. Many Molokai residents have named their distinguished winter residents and note arrival and departure dates on
calendars.

Report the return of a kolea on Molokai and win a prize. Include date, time and location. The observer of the first confirmed sighting will win a Kolea Research T-shirt . The nine runner-up observers will receive a gift certificate for a scoop of ice cream at Kamoi Snack ‘N Go. Any individual reporting a banded kolea will receive $20, and the observer of the one-legged kolea marked with a green band over a silver band will receive $100. Bands are read from the bird’s perspective as if reading a book — bird’s left leg top band bottom band, bird’s right leg top band bottom band. Some birds will have bands on one leg only while others will have bands on
both legs. All banded birds will be confirmed (high resolution photos showing bands are acceptable). To report your kolea call Arleone 553-5992 or email researchbirds@yahoo.com. Winners will be announced in October. A female has already come home for the winter… can you find her?

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