Krazy for Kolea Kontest

Community Contributed

Nene O Molokai News Release

The fall migration of the kolea, the Pacific Golden-Plover (Pluvialis fulva), is about to begin with birds returning to Hawaii from breeding grounds in the Alaskan tundra. The earliest arrivals are typically females. 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. However these feathers are lost by winter when the bird molts back to brown. Kolea are long-lived (20-plus years), territorial and annually return to the same grounds.

Report the return of a kolea and win a prize. Include date, exact time, and location. The observer of the first confirmed sighting will win a Kolea Research T-shirt from the Hawaii Audubon Society. The first ten confirmed observations will receive a gift certificate for a scoop of ice cream at Kamoi Snack ‘N Go. In addition, any individual reporting a banded kolea will receive $20. The sighting and location of each banded bird will be confirmed for this prize.

Many Molokai residents have named their distinguished winter guests and note arrival and departure dates on calendars. Sightings are collected by the Nene O Molokai organization and emailed to Dr. Peter Pyle, ornithologist, who compiles the information for the Bishop Museum’s database ‘The Birds of the Hawaiian Islands: Occurrence, History, Distribution, and Status’ http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/birds/rlp-monograph.

The kolea is a swift flyer, performing an incredible non-stop transpacific migration to Hawaii in about 40 hours at speeds averaging 56 – 60 miles per hour. Some birds continue on to points as far as Australia or Madagascar. In Hawaii, kolea habitat includes pastures and fields, coastal mudflats, grassy borders of airport runways, golf courses and lawns. The kolea spends most of its daylight hours foraging and can be recognized from a distance by its peculiar feeding behavior of run-stop-run. Nighttime roosting sites are Molokai’s coastal fishpond walls or rocky points, parking lots, or roof tops.

On their northern migration, Kolea may have aided ancient navigators with the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands, and the bird figured prominently in Hawaiian folklore. It was considered to be the embodiment of the god of healing, Koleamoku, and a messenger of high chiefs.

Kolea banded on Molokai have a green or yellow band over a silver metal band. Also be on the lookout for birds banded with a combination of three color flags and one metal band. These birds were banded by Dr. Oscar “Wally” Johnson of Montana State University for a long-term life history study. Bird bands are read as if reading a book, that is, the bird’s left leg top to bottom, then the bird’s right leg top to bottom. Call Arleone 553-5992 or email researchbirds@yahoo.com. Contest winners will be announced at the end of September.


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