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Manu Minute: The Far-Wandering Tattler

A. Tanimoto-Johnson Breeding plumage Ulili, AMT_9835.jpg
Ann M. Tanimoto
Hawai'i Public Radio
The ˊŪlili, or Wandering Tattler, is a shorebird that is indigenous to Hawaiˊi.

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.

This Manu Minute uses field recordings from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML236855).

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.
Savannah Harriman-Pote rejoined The Conversation in 2021 after interning for Hawaiʻi Public Radio in the summers of 2018 and 2019. She completed her undergraduate degree in International Relations at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, during which time she worked for WMHC and Mount Holyoke News. She has also worked with the audio documentary series Outer Voices and National Geographic.
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