Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Manu Minute: The Long-legged Ae'o

Image 1
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson
Aeʻo stand about 16 inches tall, have glossy black backs, bright white fronts, and long pink legs that allow them to wade into deep water looking for crustaceans and worms.

The ae'o, also known as kūkuluae'o, or Hawaiian stilt, is an endangered waterbird found only in the Hawaiian islands. 

Ae'o were once much more common in Hawaii, but loss of wetland habitat and introduction of mammalian predators has reduced their population to less than 1500 birds.

Hawaiian stilts build their nests on the ground near shallow wetlands. Ae'o are known to aggressively defend their nests by dive-bombing and loudly scolding any intruder, including humans, that comes near.

Ae'o are considered to be the kinolau, or physical manifestation, of the Hawaiian god Kū in his fisherman form.

Want to listen or read more about the birds of Hawai'i? Check out our Manu Minute page.

Patrick Hart is the host of HPR's Manu Minute. He runs the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Savannah Harriman-Pote is a producer for The Conversation and Manu Minute. Contact her at
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson is the Lab Manager & Research Technician in the Hart Lab/Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab. She researches the ecology, bioacoustics, and conservation of our native Hawaiian forests, birds, and bats.
More Episodes