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Manu Minute: The bristle-thighed curlew

Like the kōlea, kioea travel to Hawaiʻi for the winter. While adults generally fly back to Alaska to breed in early May, juveniles prefer a longer holiday. They can stay in the islands for up to three years before returning to Alaska for their first breeding season.

As a result, you can spot kioea year-round in Hawaiʻi, primarily in typical shorebird habitats like wetlands, shorelines, and grassy areas — not to mention the odd golf course.

You'll still have to get a little bit lucky to catch a glimpse of one of these long-billed birds. They favor the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, where there are fewer predators to contend with. They're especially vulnerable when they're molting, as they can't fly until they have a full coat of feathers.

But kioea have been visiting the main Hawaiian islands for hundreds of years. In fact, they're one of a handful of birds mentioned in the Kumulipo. The word “kioea” means to stand high, as on long legs.

Kioea share their name with an endemic Hawaiian bird, which went extinct over one hundred years ago. The last specimen of its species was collected in 1859.

AMTJ_Manu Minute, Kioea spectrogram video.mp4

Audio credit: Bob McGuire/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML207298)

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.
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 is a producer for The Conversation and Manu Minute. Contact her at
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