ARTICLES ON HAWAIIAN
BIRDS AND BIRDWATCHING AND OTHER
Hawai'i Birding Hotspots No. 9 - Kealia NWR, Maui
Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge located on Maui's south shore was established in 1992 and is part of the Maui NWR Complex. The refuge is home to endangered native water birds, and hosts migratory ducks and shorebirds in fall, winter, and spring. This refuge provides 700 acres of some of the last remaining natural wetland habitat in the State of Hawai`i. Kealia Pond is nearly 250 acres when full. The refuge is adjacent to Kealia Beach, which is a nesting ground for the endangered Hawksbill Turtle. During 2003 and 2004 a $2.6 million, 2,200 foot long boardwalk was constructed along the ocean at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Sanctuary and allows visitors to enjoy the wetland with minimal impact to the unique habitat. The completed boardwalk has an entry area, bridge over the Kealia Pond outlet and three kiosks with interpretive displays about ecology, the biology of wetlands, endangered birds found in the refuge, turtles and humpback whales. The boardwalk overlooks Ma'alaea Bay and gives people another vantage point to see humpback whales. The bad news for those who want to try it out is that, due to snags with permits for the construction of its parking lot and a delay in completion of interpretive panels being made on the Mainland, the boardwalk is not expected to open until summer 2005.
Located at the Southern end of the central Maui isthmus and accessed from North Kihei Road
between Kihei and the Wailuku - Lahaina Road. Refuge kiosk open out of nesting season, follow on site signs.
The Main Pond is located on the opposite side of the road from Ma'alea Flats, a little further along if approached from the North end. Many Hawaiian Coots and Hawaiian Stilts reside at the pond and it has one of the largest populations in the State of the latter.
The pond has an extensive list of migrants and vagrants to its name and during the winter months it usually has sizable numbers of Northern Pintail and Northern Shoveler as well as smaller numbers of Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck (right) and American Wigeon. Scarcer species often include Eurasian Wigeon, Garganey, Greater Scaup, Canvasback, Bufflehead and Tufted Duck. There is always the chance of something rarer, such as Redhead or Common Merganser which have occurred in the past. Geese recorded from here include White-fronted, Canada, Snow and Brant.
Ospreys are seen here almost annually and it is probably
the best location in Hawai'i to see this species. Peregrine
are recorded most years and Marsh Hawk has been observed
on rare occasions.
As well as the resident Night Herons and Cattle Egrets, species such as Great Blue Heron, Great Egret and Snowy Egret (below right) have been recorded.
Many Shorebirds have been recorded at Kealia and have regularly included Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Pectoral (left), Least and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. Scarcer and rare species have included Red-necked Stint, Whimbrel, Western Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher and Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit. Ruff which are uncommon in the State are recorded almost annually at Kealia Pond.
Above: Pectoral Sandpiper is recorded annually at Kealia Pond NWR.
Gulls and Terns regularly occur at the pond and often remain for some time and have included Glaucous, Glaucous-winged, Laughing, Franklin's, Bonaparte's, Ring-billed, Western and Herring Gull and Caspian, Common and Least Terns.
Introduced Estrildids can often be seen in the dry grasses along the road and beach.
Kealia Pond is one of Hawai'i's most prolific migrant "traps" where almost any species could , and often does, turn up.
Below: Snowy Egret. A vagrant to the Hawaiian Islands but recorded several times at Kelaia Pond, Maui. The similar Little Egret has yet to be recorded in the archipelago but could easily occur, precise plumage details of leg and lore colour should be noted.
Ma'alaea Flats are located on the seaward side of the road and is often good for migrant Shorebirds such as Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers, as well as smaller Sandpipers and Stints (Peeps). Large numbers of Hawaiian Stilts and Pacific Golden Plovers are usually present, but can depend on the water levels.
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Useful information about Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge.
|LOCATION||Located at the Southern end of the central Maui isthmus and accessed from North Kihei Road between Kihei and the Wailuku - Lahaina Road. Refuge kiosk open out of nesting season, follow on site signs.|
|OPENING TIMES||Some of refuge open outside of nesting season, but most of area viewable from the road.||Refuge kiosk open in middle of refuge, follow signs on site.|
|ENTRANCE FEE||No Entrance Fee.|
|GUIDED HIKES||None but a new boardwalk with interpretive signs is under construction.|
|U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE OFFICE||Link: Kealia National Wildlife Refuge|
|REFUGE MANAGER||Glynnis Nakai||Link: Kealia National Wildlife Refuge|
|BIRD SPECIES OBSERVED||At least 95 species (approximate).||c.50 species recorded annually, c.25 species breeding annually.|
|MARINE ANIMALS OBSERVED||Green Sea Turtle on beach opposite refuge.||Humpback Whales and Dolphins may be seen from the beaches nearby.|
|USEFUL READING||Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific by H.D. Pratt et al.|
|LINKS||Link: Kealia National Wildlife
Link: Directions to Refuge
Link: U.S. FWS Refuge checklists
Adult winter Bonaparte's Gull. An almost annual visitor to Kealia Pond in ones or twos.
Christian Melgar. Worthing, West Sussex, UK. 2002.