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The Ultimate Guide to Birding on Kauai

Kauai has so much beautiful wildlife! Find out all the best spots for birding on Kauai, keep scrolling down for all the info!!
This birding on Kauai post was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Kauai is notorious for being a beautiful place. From the mountains to lush waterfalls, to amazing beaches, there is so much to do and see.

However, when you have a gorgeous island like this, you are also bound to have some wildlife that is worth checking out.

Kauai bird watching is a real thing and many people enjoy doing it. Here is your ultimate guide to birding on Kauai.

You will find that the birds on Kauai are endemic. This simply means these birds are natural to a specific place.

Everyone from experts to casual bird watchers enjoys seeing the variety of birds on Kauai.

You’ll enjoy watching the Hawaiian birds Kauai offers, but also listening to them too!

Keep scrolling to see our birds of Kauai list and learn how you can have as many Kauai bird sightings as possible.

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Kauai.

Popular Kauai Tours/Activities

Favorite Kauai Resorts/Hotels

  • Grand Hyatt Kauai (this Poipu resort has a luxurious pool area, romantic restaurants, and a stunning ocean view)
  • Koloa Landing Resort (this is a luxury resort with an amazing pool area and truly spacious rooms)
  • Royal Sonesta Kauai (we LOVE the pool here because it’s the largest one in Hawaii)

Want to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
One of the best places to rent a car in Hawaii is Discount Hawaii Car Rental because they get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.

Click here for step-by-step Kauai travel planning help

The Ultimate Guide to Birding on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Heading to Kauai and want to see some Hawaii wildlife? Find out the best places to go birding on Kauai

Birding on Kauai: Types of Kauai Birds and Where to See Them

The interesting part of birding on Kauai is that there is not only one type of bird to see, but there are many common birds of Kauai.

Here is a list of the types of birds of Hawaii and where you may be able to see them as you explore Kauai.

You can use this as your birds of Hawaii guide!

Open Country Birds

  • Waimea Canyon Road
  • Hanapepe
  • Lihu`e Airport
  • Princeville

Marine Birds

  • Na Pali Coast
  • Waimea Canyon
  • Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Forest Birds

  • Koke`e State Park/Pihea Trail
  • Hule`ia National Wildlife Refuge
  • Pu`u o Kila Overlook
  • Kalalau Lookout

Urban Birds

  • Lihu`e
  • Koloa
  • Princeville
  • Kukiolono Park

Wetland Birds

  • Koloa Reservoirs
  • Hanapepe Salt Ponds
  • Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands
  • Mana Wetlands
  • Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge
  • Waita Reservoir
  • Opaeka`a Valley/Wailua River
  • Menehune Fishponds (Alakoko)

Best Spots for Birding on Kauai

Now that you know where you can see some of the different varieties of birds on Kauai, it’s important to know some of the top bird-watching spots.

Kōkeʻe State Park

Many amateurs and rookie bird watchers will tell you that Kōkeʻe State Park is a top bird-watching spot.

The Ultimate Guide to Birding on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Kokee State Park is a popular place on Kauai for bird watching
Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

The thing that makes this spot unique is the trails. Because of its high elevation, bird-watching is really easy in this park.

At 4,000 feet of elevation, you can see birds such as…

  • ‘Apapane
  • Kauaʻi akepa
  • ʻAnianiau, pueo (Hawaiian owl)
  • ʻElepaio
  • ‘Amakihi
  • ʻiʻiwi and the Kauaʻi Creeper

These are all birds of Kauai that you have a good chance of seeing, while at this state park.

It is one of the best places for bird watching Kauai offers.

You can see Pueo (aka Hawaiian owls) like this when birding on Kauai
Hawaiian Hawk

Kīlauea National Wildlife Refuge

When it comes to Hawaii birding, sometimes the best place to head is a wildlife refuge. The Kīlauea National Wildlife Refuge is one of those places that you can easily view seabirds on the Island.

Not only are there regular species of birds here, but you will also find migratory seabirds.

The Ultimate Guide to Birding on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Kilauea Wildlife Refuge is a poplar place for Kauai bird watching
Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Here are some of the birds that you may be able to see at this Kauai bird sanctuary…

  • Kōloa
  • Nēnē
  • Newell’s shearwaters
  • Wandering tattlers
  • Ruddy turnstones
  • Red-footed boobies
  • Laysan
  • Black-footed albatross
  • Brown boobies
  • Red-tailed and white-tailed tropicbirds
  • Great frigatebirds
  • Wedge-tailed shearwaters

Shew, that’s a lot of amazing birds of Hawaii Kauai that you could possibly see. This wildlife refuge center is open from Tuesday through Saturday.

It is another place to find the best birding in Hawaii.

Wailua River Valley

Another top birding spot in Kauai is the Wailua River Valley.

The Ultimate Guide to Birding on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Wailua River Valley is a great Kauai birding spot
Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

If you love to be outdoors and want to see those birds up close, this may be the place for you.

Known as the only navigable river on the island, this is ample opportunity to see birds native to Kauai like…

  • Kōloa
  • ‘Alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot)
  • Japanese bush-warblers
  • Meadowlarks
  • Two thrush species
See Myna Birds like this one when birdwatching on Kauai
Myna Bird

Top Birding Tours on Kauai

Not everyone knows about birding in Kauai. There is a lot that goes into birding, from where to go to what to look for.

Sometimes it’s nice to just go on a birding Hawaii tour. There is no shortage of birding tours in Kauai.

Check out some of the top Kauai birding tours.


This is an interesting concept that not every island has. However, Kauai is special.

This island has something called Birdingpal.

Some of these Hawaii birding tours are already set up, but there are professional bird guides that will take you on a birding outing.

You should expect to pay a fee for the professional Hawaii bird guide.

Hire a Bird Guide

Because there are so many birds in Kauai, hiring someone who knows what they are doing is a smart move.

If you’d like to hire a guide, you can look through this list of guides for birding on Kauai.

Hawaii Bird Tours

If you want to see some of the stunning seabirds, go on this West Kauai Pelagic Birding Adventure.

It takes you out on a boat to see some of the best bird watching Hawaii has to offer. It lasts about 6 to 7 hours and can even pick you up from your hotel!

Here are a few birds you might see:

  • Red-footed Booby
  • Brown Booby
  • Masked Booby
  • Brown Noddy
  • B lack Noddy
  • Laysan Albatross
  • Sooty tern
  • Gray-backed Tern
  • Bulwer Petrel
  • Wedge-tailed Shearwater
  • Arctic Tern
  • Black-winged Petrel
  • Mottled Petrel
  • Cook Petrel
  • Stejneger Petrel
  • Murphy Petrel
  • Kermadec Petrel
  • Hawaiian Petrel
  • Juan Fernandez Petrel
  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Short-tailed Shearwater
  • Buller Shearwater

Kauai North Shore Customized Birding Tours

Hawaii Bird Tours offers you the option to customize your birding experience and is one of the best birding Kauai tour you can go on!

You will head into the rainforest to see some of these beautiful birds.

It is a full day’s worth of birding, and is perfect for bird lovers!

Why Would Someone Want to Go Birding on Kauai?

If you’re heading to Kauai, you probably are going because it’s one of the best places to experience nature in Hawaii. Kauai is commonly named the most beautiful Hawaiian Island.

The Ultimate Guide to Birding on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: You can find all kinds of birds on Kauai

Part of its natural beauty is the wildlife that calls Kauai home. There are birds that you can’t see anywhere else in the world.

They are full of color, make unique sounds, and are something that you will be in awe of when you get closer.

It’s also a great budget-friendly Hawaii activity!

Do You Need to Have Any Experience to Go Birding?

Keep in mind that you can go birding on your own, but you may not know what you are looking at. Even with birds of Kauai pictures or a birds of Hawaii field guide, you just might not be able to identify the birds you see or hear.

If you are wanting to learn as much as you can about the birds on the island, going on a bird tour is a good idea. That way, you can ask questions, get a local’s perspective, and hear about their own birdwatching adventures.

The first time you go birding, it’s recommended that you go with a birding specialist, otherwise, take a bird tour.

Tips for Bird Watching in Hawaii for the First Time

  1. Think of it like golf. It’s an activity that requires a lot of patience. Some days you’ll find a lot of birds and other times you might just see a Kauai bird and that’s it.
  2. Be prepared. Find out about what types of birds are on Kauai and where they can be found. And look at photos of them or get a birds of Kauai chart so you know you’ve identified them correctly. This book about Kauai birds is a great resource for Hawaii bird identification. Find the best prices here.
  3. Start off small. You probably aren’t going to see every bird on Kauai in one afternoon. So, when you start out, pick one bird of Kauai you’d like to spot. Once you’ve spied the Kauai bird, you can call your first Kauai birdwatching adventure a success!

Bird Watching on Kauai with Kids

Wondering whether or not to bring your kids birding? It kind of depends on your kids. Birding is a pretty quiet activity for the most part.

If you’ve taken them fishing successfully or you know they can be semi-quiet for long periods of time, this is a fun (and free) thing to do with kids on Kauai.

There are lots of ways to add some extra fun when taking kids bird watching. You can turn it into a game. Make a list of Kauai birds and check off each one you see. Or create a Bingo board and see who can get 5 in a row.

Another idea is to have them listen to the sounds the birds make and try to mimic them. Then, have them imagine themselves as birds and have them make their own bird sound.

Plus, you can read a few books about Hawaiian birds, like this one about rare birds on Kauai. Find the best prices here.

For more tips, check out this great article from the Audobon Society about birding with kids.

What Should I Take With Me When Birding on Kauai?

When it comes to birding on Kauai, you may be wondering what to take with you.

You are going to want a nice pair of binoculars to help you see. Find the best prices here.

Also a field guide, if you can get your hands on it. A field guide will help you know what kinds of birds you are looking at. Check out the latest prices and more details.

A birding vest is also a good investment, so you have something to hold all of your items. Find the best prices here.

And be sure to pack:

Remember that when birding, you don’t want to make too much noise, so you do need to limit what you bring in a sense. Avoid bags with Velcro closures or noisy material.

Birding on Kauai FAQs

Which Hawaiian island is best for birding?

Kauai is definitely the best Hawaiian island for birding. The best area is Kokee State Park, which is absolutely stunning.

Are there hummingbirds in Hawaii?

No. Actually, you won’t find hummingbirds anywhere in Hawaii. They are banned from the islands.

Why aren’t there hummingbirds in Hawaii?

One reason why hummingbirds are not in Hawaii is because they are pineapple pollinators. If they are around pineapple plants, they will go to seed, which makes it more difficult to eat pineapples.

When is the best time for bird watching on Kauai?

The earlier the better. Try to get out right after sunrise if you want the best chance of seeing Hawaii birds.

What is the best time of year for birding in Hawaii?

Often, the winter months are better for bird watching in Hawaii. This is because many birds are migrating during this time. You can enjoy the wildlife on Kauai anytime of the year though!

Birds of Kauai Hawaii Wrap-Up

Hopefully, now you know a bit more about all the types of birds in Kauai so you can enjoy Hawaii bird watching!

Whether you go on one of the Kauai bird watching tours or see the beautiful wildlife in Kauai all by yourself, you will love seeing all the native Hawaiian birds this island has to offer.

Have you been birding on Kauai? I’d love to hear all about your experience.