Birding Tips

Birding is fun, and anyone can be a birder. If you’re interested in birds but don’t know how to find them, the resources below can help. Remember not to approach or disturb birds, just observe them. Many of our native birds are endangered and special care should be taken for ethical birding.

Know your Birds

Birding is a lot more fun when you know what you’re looking at. Our website has species profiles for Hawaiʻi’s native birds that include photos, audio, and biological information.

Our bird profiles include bird call audio you can use before you go birding to understand what you might hear in the forest. We ask you not to play that audio in the forest as it can disturb birds. Learn more about ethical birding.

You can learn about non-native birds through the Brilliant Backyard Birds booklet from Kamehameha Schools.

Hawaiʻi's Native Birds

Birding for Beginners

Watch our 3-minute video,Birding for Beginners, with Forestry & Wildlife. It provides tips for how to bird and a quick summary of the birds you might see on different islands. Some of the important tips are:

  • Know before you go. Check your hiking trail, weather, and other tips to hike pono and hike safely.
  • Bring binoculars if you’d like. We have a printable guide on how to use binoculars that you can take with you.
  • Bring a journal to write down your observations
  • Scan the forest with your eyes, not with your binoculars. Once you see a bird, keep your eyes on the bird and lift the binoculars to your eyes.
  • Note the bird’s behavior and the shape of the bill, head, and body. Note color last. Feather color may vary by age or whether the bird is male or female, so color alone is not a great way to identify a bird.
  • Don’t worry too much about identifying the bird while you’re on the trail: appreciate the moment. You can always look up your bird’s identification later.
  • Don’t disturb the bird. Use our tips on ethical birding.