Birding Diamond Head – Oahu, Hawaii

Every so often the planets align. Last week a business trip took me to a birding hot spot and the travel schedule afforded me a day off. The spot was Oahu, Hawaii and the day after the conference we were attending was over a group of us drove out to Diamond Head, a volcanic cone located on the southeast side of the island. We drove into the park entrance and parked. As we exited our rental car we looked at the steep hills surrounding us and realized that we were standing in the center of the large crater left behind when the volcano last blew its top, 300,000 years ago. My friends headed off to climb the path leading up one of the crater walls, but I was still hobbled my my recent foot injury so I decided to stay behind. That was just fine with me, because the park was teeming with several species of Hawaiian birds, most of which I had never seen before. Here is some of what I saw.

The Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva)  breeds in Alaska and winters on islands throughout the Pacific.  These were  relatively abundant this time of year in Oahu.  This was a first for my Life List.
The Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) is native to India and is only found in two US states: my home state of Florida and Hawaii.  This was by far the most common bird on the island.  These birds are extremely intelligent and apparently can learn to mimic human words if raised in captivity from a young age.
The Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild) is a tiny passerine originally from Saharan Africa. These colorful little guys were fun to watch foraging as a group in trees or on the ground.  Also a first for my Life List.
There are two species of doves found on Oahu. The Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis) and the Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata).  Both firsts for me.  Here is a shot of both foraging together.  Can you guess which is which?
I didn’t think there was a very high chance that I’d spot a Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus), but I did.  I had  scooted away from my crutches to get a shot of another bird.  I turned around and to my amazement this little guy had zoomed in and landed right on top of them.  Here he is right before he flew away.
My friends hiked half way up the crater wall and came back with photos of these Java Sparrows (Padda oryzivora).  I hadn’t intended on hiking, but when I saw the images on my friend’s camera I knew I had to go up.  I grabbed my crutches and struggled up the hill.  It was well worth it.
When I found the sparrows they were foraging in some brush on the side of the path.  I dropped my crutches and lay down on the path so I could get some good shots off.  Later  I realized that I may have caused some concern for passers by who were observing a man with a walking cast and crutches thrown aside laying on his belly in the middle of a steep mountain path.
I thought the Red-crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata) was one of the coolest birds on the island.  Unlike our  Northern Cardinals in the states, these guys seemed to do their foraging on the ground.  Their markings were stunning. I wasn’t able to get a very good photo, but I wanted to share this interesting bird.  This is the best shot I was able to capture.