Planning a trip to Hawaii? Have any questions? Join our Hawaii’s Best Travel Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!

This Birding on Kauai post is written by Bryan Murphy, an expert in Hawaii travel and a top-rated podcast host. The post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this site if you use the provided links.

Information Disclaimer: This website gives general info and isn’t legal or official advice. It helps travelers with tips but can’t replace personal abilities, fitness, experience, or local knowledge, which you are fully liable for. All activities have risks; assess current conditions and follow local laws and signage.

Planning Your Trip? Use Our Favorite Resources!

🏨 Accommodations: We recommend Expedia

✈️ Flights: For the cheapest flights, we use Skyscanner

🚗 Rental Car: We recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental

🌋 Hawaii Tours & Attractions: We recommend Get Your Guide

📱 Mobile Tour App: Our favorite is Shaka Guide

This guide aims to provide you with the best birding spots and useful tips for an optimal birding experience in this tropical haven. Ready to uncover what makes Kauai a fantastic choice for your next birding adventure?

Key Takeaways of Birding on Kauai

  • Kauai is a paradise for bird-watching with its unique endemic species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
  • The island offers diverse habitats such as open country, marine areas, forests, urban landscapes, and wetlands, where you can spot different types of birds.
  • Top bird-watching spots on Kauai include Kōke’e State Park, Kīlauea National Wildlife Refuge, and Wailua River Valley.
  • Hiring a professional bird guide like Birdingpal or Hawaii Bird Tours can enhance your experience and help you spot rare and unique Hawaiian species.

Why Birding on Kauai, Hawaii?

Kauai is a dream spot for bird watchers. It’s home to many birds you can’t find anywhere else. These birds are called “endemic.” This means Kauai is the only place in the world where these birds live.

So, birding on Kauai lets you see some one-of-a-kind wildlife.

From pro bird watchers to folks who just enjoy nature, everyone loves birding on Kauai. You don’t need to be an expert – anyone can have fun spotting Kauai’s unique and colorful birds.

Plus, there’s more than just seeing new kinds of birds here! Birding lets you take in all the beauty Kauai has to offer, like lush forest sights and stunning ocean views.

You’ll also find many different kinds of bird tours. Take a tour with Birdingpal if you want someone who knows lots about birds to show you around.

A guide can help make your trip even better by showing where to look for certain types of rare or unique island-only (or endemic!) Hawaiian species.


Birds of Kauai: Variety of Bird Species on Kauai

birding on kauai 3

Kauai is home to a diverse range of bird species, including open country birds, marine birds, forest birds, urban birds, and wetland birds.

Open Country Birds

You will find Open Country Birds in Kauai. Koke’e State Park is a great place to see them. You can also go to Kīlauea National Wildlife Refuge for the same experience.

Wailua River Valley, too, has many Open Country Bird species.

Try taking a birding tour to help find these birds. Birdingpal and Hawaii Bird Tours are two good choices. They take you on fun trips and show you all kinds of Open Country Birds in Kauai!


Many birds live in the open country of Kauai, including: 
  • Endemics: The Nene, or Hawaiian Goose, and the ‘Io, or Hawaiian Hawk
  • Forest and open land birds: The O’ahu ‘elepaio, Kaua’i ‘elepaio, Hawai’i ‘elepaio, Hawai’i ‘amakihi, Kaua’i ‘amakihi, O’ahu ‘amakihi, Anianiau, and Akekee
  • Wetland birds: The Hawaiian coot, also known as ʻalae keʻokeʻo
  • Seabirds: The Hawaiian Petrel (Uaʻu)

Marine Birds

In Kauai, you can see many types of marine birds. The Kīlauea National Wildlife Refuge is a top place to spot them.

Here, birds like Red-footed boobies and Laysan albatross fly in from the sea.

You can also find these seabirds on tours with Hawaii Bird Tours or BirdingPal. They offer trips that take you close to the ocean where these birds live.

You may even see some at Wailua River Valley! This spot is excellent for bird watching, too.

Forest Birds

In Kauai, the forest is full of birds. You can see them in places like Koke’e State Park and Wailua River Valley. Two types you might spot are ‘Apapane and Kaua’i akepa.

These birds only live here, nowhere else on Earth! Plus, there are birding tours.

They will take you to spots where these birds love to hang out in the rainforest. Going on a tour is fun and helps keep nature safe for all!

So come see our forest birds in their home right here on Kauai island.

Urban Birds

In addition to the diverse range of bird species found in Kauai’s open country, marine areas, forests, and wetlands, the island is also home to various urban birds.

These birds can be spotted throughout the island’s towns, often near residential areas and parks.

Common urban bird species include the Zebra Dove, Java Sparrow, Red-crested Cardinal, and Japanese White-eye.

You might even catch sight of some introduced bird species like Myna Birds or Common Waxbills.

So watch for these feathered friends as you explore Kauai’s urban landscapes!

Wetland Birds

Kauai has a variety of bird species, and among them are the wetland birds. These birds can be found in the Wailua River Valley, which is a popular spot for observing them.

If you want to have a better chance of seeing these beautiful creatures, it is recommended to hire a bird guide who knows where to find them.

Don’t forget to bring your binoculars, field guide, and birding vest to comfortably observe the wetland birds from afar. The best time to see them is early morning, right after sunrise.

So make sure to set your alarm clock and get ready for an amazing bird-watching experience on Kauai!


Top Bird-Watching Spots on Kauai Island

bird watching kauai

Explore the beauty of Kōkeʻe State Park, Kīlauea National Wildlife Refuge, and Wailua River Valley for incredible bird-watching opportunities in Kauai.

Kōkeʻe State Park

Kōkeʻe State Park is a must-visit spot for bird-watching in Kauai. With its beautiful trails, you can see some incredible birds like the ‘Apapane and Kaua’i akepa.

Right next to the park is the Alakai Wilderness, where you can find even more unique bird species. The Pihea and Alakai Swamp trails in Kokee are especially great for observing native forest birds like the ‘I’iwi.

So don’t forget to bring your binoculars and explore these amazing birding spots at Kōkeʻe State Park!

Kīlauea National Wildlife Refuge

Kīlauea National Wildlife Refuge is a must-visit spot for bird-watching in Kauai. This refuge offers the chance to see a wide variety of birds, from regular residents to migratory seabirds like Red-footed Boobies and Laysan Albatross.

You can expect an exciting and diverse birding experience here. Just keep in mind that the tour involves standing, short walks on uneven and wet terrain, frequent stops, and getting in and out of the tour van.

So be sure to wear lightweight long pants and waterproof hiking shoes, and bring a lightweight sweater or fleece for added comfort.

Wailua River Valley

The Wailua River Valley is a must-visit spot for bird watchers in Kauai. This beautiful valley is known for its diverse bird species and stunning scenery.

You can spot birds such as the Kōloa, which is a Hawaiian duck, and the ‘Alae ke’oke’o, also known as the Hawaiian coot.

Take your binoculars and explore this paradise of unique feathered creatures while enjoying the beauty of nature at its finest.

Recommended Birding Tours on Kauai in 2023

If you’re looking for a guided bird-watching experience on Kauai, be sure to check out Birdingpal, Hawaii Bird Tours, and Kauai North Shore Customized Birding Tours.

These tours will take you to some of the best bird-watching spots on the island and provide knowledgeable guides to enhance your birding adventure.

Don’t miss out on these incredible opportunities to see Kauai’s amazing avian wildlife up close!


Are you interested in bird watching on Kauai? If so, Birdingpal offers recommended birding tours that will help you explore the best bird watching spots on the island.

Their tours are led by a knowledgeable guide, Mandy Talpas, who will ensure that you have a great time while learning about Hawaii’s unique flora and fauna.

These tours involve activities like standing, short walks on uneven and wet terrain, frequent stops, and getting in and out of the tour van. If you decide to go on a group trip with Birdingpal, make sure to cancel at least 48 hours in advance for a full refund.

For private tours, you have up to 7 days to cancel outside of which you can get a full refund. So get ready for an exciting bird-watching adventure with Birdingpal!

Hawaii Bird Tours

Hawaii Bird Tours is a highly recommended option for birding tours on Kauai. Led by experienced guide Mandy Talpas, these tours offer customized excursions where you can learn about the unique flora and fauna of Hawaii while having a great time.

The tours involve short walks on uneven terrain, frequent stops, and getting in and out of the tour van. It’s important to wear lightweight long pants, waterproof hiking shoes, and bring rain gear for your comfort.

Don’t forget to bring your camera, binoculars, sun protection, layered clothing, daypack for lunch and water as well. With Hawaii Bird Tours, you’ll have an unforgettable bird-watching experience on Kauai!

Kauai North Shore Customized Birding Tours

If you’re looking for a personalized birdwatching experience on Kauai, then Kauai North Shore Customized Birding Tours is the perfect option for you. These tours cater to birdwatching enthusiasts and offer private tour options.

The website is currently being updated, but you can find information about their tours categorized by island, including Kauai. They provide pelagic tours and multiple island tours as well.

You’ll also find different styles of tours to choose from, such as multi-day trips, day trips, and custom tours. So if you want a unique and tailored birdwatching adventure on Kauai, check out Kauai North Shore Customized Birding Tours.


Tips for First-Time Bird Watchers in Kauai

birding on kauai 1

If you’re new to bird watching on Kauai, here are some tips to help you get started. First, make sure you bring the right gear. A good pair of binoculars is essential for getting a closer look at the birds.

You might also want to consider investing in a field guide or downloading a birding app to help with identification.

Next, be sure to dress appropriately for your birding adventure. Wear comfortable shoes as you may be walking on uneven terrain. A hat with a wide brim can protect you from the sun, and don’t forget sunscreen!

When it comes to finding birds, it’s helpful to hire a professional bird guide. They know the best spots and can point out different species that you might not have noticed otherwise.

Plus, they can provide valuable information about the behavior and habitat of each bird.

Lastly, be patient and observant during your bird-watching experience. Birds are often more active in the early morning or late afternoon, so plan your outings accordingly.

Take your time and enjoy being in nature – you never know what unique species you might encounter on Kauai!

Looking for more fun things to do on Kauai? Check out this guide here!

FAQs of Birding on Kauai

1. What is birding on Kauai?

Birding on Kauai means watching many types of birds found only in Hawaii. The island has forests, lowlands, and parks full of different species.

2. Where are the best places for bird watching on Kauai?

The best spots for bird watching are at state parks like Kokee State Park, trails near Poipu, and wildlife refuges such as Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge or Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

3. What kind of birds can I see in Kauai?

You can spot endemic birds like Hawaiian coot, Elepaio, Anianiau or even endangered species like ‘I’iwi and Akikiki! Also expect to see introduced birds that came from another part of the world.

4. Do we need a guide for birding tours on this island?

Having a guide is often useful because they know where specific species live and how to identify them. Plus they understand local rules about protecting animal homes!

5. Can I also spot seabirds when I am touring around the island?

Yes! You could have a perfect view seabirds such as tropicbirds or red-footed boobies along with Hawaii’s ocean life during pelagic birding adventure boat trips.

6. What are some of the common terms associated with birds of Hawaii?

Some common terms associated with birds of Hawaii include “birds of Hawaii,” “Hawaii birding,” “Kauai amakihi,” “Kauai elepaio,” “Hawaiian goose,” and “apapane.”

7. Can I expect to see waterbirds while birding on Kauai?

Yes, there are waterbirds you may be able to see while birding on Kauai, such as the black-necked stilt and the gallinule.

8. Are there any specific birds mentioned that are natural to Kauai?

Yes, there are several bird species mentioned in this guide that are natural to Kauai, such as the Kauai amakihi, Kauai elepaio, and the apapane.

Bird Watching on Kauai Wrap-Up

Birding on Kauai is an exciting adventure for bird enthusiasts. With its diverse habitats and endemic species, the island offers incredible opportunities for bird watching.

From Koke’e State Park to the Wailua River Valley, there are plenty of top spots to see a wide variety of birds.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced birder, hiring a professional guide can enhance your experience and help you spot rare birds. So grab your binoculars and get ready for an unforgettable birding experience on Kauai!

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy, owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel, is a certified Hawaii destination expert from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He actively participates in the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as a member and has a strong educational background focused on local culture and sustainability. As the host of “Hawaii’s Best Travel,” a top-30 US travel podcast, Bryan combines his years of experience with valuable insights. He connects with a broad online community, reaching nearly half a million people, and offers a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.