The Pacific Golden Plover
What Kolea is named for
Should you visit Hawaii in the fall and winter months, you may have the opportunity to see the Pacific Golden Plover. This beautiful bird was named “Kōlea” by early Hawaiians who noted that individual birds return to the same place in the islands year after year.
This species is a wader and forages for food on tundra, fields, beaches and tidal flats–usually by sight. It eats insects and crustaceans and some berries. They are often noted to stand on one leg as if posing.
According to Wikipedia, the Kōlea’s native breeding ground is the Arctic tundra from northernmost Asia into western Alaska. It migrates in the fall and winter months into warmer territories. Scientist have found that these birds make a 3000 mile non-stop trip from Alaska to Hawaii in 3 to 4 days. These photos were taken at Kōlea in mid September. In Hawaii, they appear a brownish color with golden highlights, initially, and then turn a darker color in the spring before travelling north. During breeding season, the face and underbelly turns a dark, almost black color. The oldest Kōlea recorded was at least 21 years old.