Manu Minute: Noio, the Aku Bird

Feb 3, 2021

Special thanks to Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for today's field recordings.

Since they often roost on cliffs and forage close to shore, Noio, or Hawaiian black noddies, are one of the most commonly seen seabirds in Hawai'i. But birdwatching for Noio isn't just a pleasant afternoon activity — it can also provide critical information about the landscape.

Fisher-people deemed Noio "aku birds" — or birds that indicate the presence of aku. Noio will flock above a school of aku fish that is about to surface, creating the perfect opportunity for a watchful fisherperson to swoop in.

Noio are used in navigation as well. A Noio sighting on a long Pacific voyage indicates that land is near.

Noio like to nest in colonies, often on sea-cliffs and in sea-caves. Noio courtship and mating consists of a courtship ritual where the male bows repeatedly to the female, and if she likes him, she will bow back to him. They lay a single egg, and parenting responsibilities are shared by the mated pair.

Like many seabirds, Noio can live a long time. The oldest known Noio is over 25 years old!