On my trip I’ve been making an effort to find native Hawaiian birds, which is increasingly difficult in the lower elevations and urban areas. One bird of particular interest to me is the Manu o Ku, or the White Tern. This all-white bird is also known as the Fairy Tern. This bird is found in high numbers in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands but on the main islands is found only on the southern shore of O’ahu. Among a few other nesting sites, these terns can be found in Honolulu on the grounds of the Iolani Palace – the official residence of the Hawaiian monarchy prior to statehood.
On the grounds of the Palace, and in the neighboring areas including the State Capitol, there is active predator control for the rat, cat and mongoose populations that are causing problems for Hawai’i's wildlife. While there are plenty of alien, non-native birds on the Palace grounds, the birds that captivated my interest were the terns.
White Terns are particularly interesting because they don’t build nests, but instead simply lay their eggs directly onto tree branches. When I visited, I was easily able to see many of these beautiful birds, and even caught a glimpse of a few young chicks. Here are some images:
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