Manu Minute: The Far-Wandering Tattler
These medium-sized sandpipers stand about 10 inches tall and are mostly grey with long yellow legs. They have dark-colored bills with a slight white eye ring.
Like Pacific golden plovers, the ˊŪlili have a specific breeding plumage. In late April, they exchange their dull grey feathers—good for camouflage, but not so attractive—for a white and dark grey scalloped pattern on their chests and bellies.
With their new look, the ˊŪlili begin their long transpacific flight to the shores of Canada and Alaska for their breeding season. They return to the Hawaiian islands in August, where they forage for food along our streams and shorelines.
This shorebird is also the eponymous subject of the song ˊUlili E, which has been covered by Hawaiian music legends Gabby Pahinui and Israel Kamakawiwoˊole.
Audio credit: Tim Burr/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML236855)