Birding Big Island

Set Departures through 2023

After working for other top birding tour operators and with conservation groups in Hawaii for years, Mandy Talpas, has designed the ultimate all-inclusive Big Island birding tour! Experience the best of Big Island and its beautiful birds with local experts! Mandy is ecstatic to get you off the beaten path so you can enjoy the real Hawaii while supporting wildlife conservation initiatives and local businesses. She invites you to enjoy birding in paradise with Hawaii’s premiere local guides in search of Hawaii’s endemic forest birds, majestic seabirds, native water birds, visiting shorebirds, and introduced specialties with scrumptious meals and oceanfront accommodations.

Highlight Target Species

Iiwi, Hawaii Amakihi, Apapane, Hawaii Creeper, Akepa, Akiapolaau, Palila, Hawaii Elepaio, Omao, Red-billed Leiothrix, Yellow-fonted Canary, Common Waxbill, African Silverbill, Saffron Finch, Yellow-billed Cardinal, Eurasian Skylark, Pacific Golden Plover, Wandering Tattler, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Goose, Short-eared Owl, Hawaiian Hawk,  Erckel’s Francolin, Black Francolin, Gray Francolin, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Kalij Pheasant, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Newell’s Shearwater, Bulwer’s Petrel, Hawaiian Petrel, Mottled Petrel, Juan Fernandez Petrel, White-necked Petrel, Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, Red-footed Booby, Brown Booby, Masked Booby, White-tailed Tropicbird, Brown Noddy, Hawaiian Noddy

“Mandy is so professional, knowledgeable and friendly! We could not have had a better bird expert on this tour! Thank you for being so passionate about the birds and for your conservation work as well. I will never forget this tour!”

Price

$3,600, double occupancy
+$575 single supplement


Duration

6 days


Dates

2020

September 21-26, 2020

2021

January 10-15, 2021
Aug. 29-Sept. 3, 2021

2022
May 9-14, 2022
June 6-11, 2022
Aug. 29-Sept. 3, 2022


Group Size

4-7

Itinerary

Day 1

Fly into Kona and meet your new friends at our welcome dinner at 6:15pm at our hotel.

Day 2

We begin our day on a quest for Hawaii Elepaio and the endangered Palila, the last of the finch-like honeycreepers. On our way to thesub-alpine dry forests of mamanae, sandalwood, and naio we will bird Saddle Road for Short-eared Owl (endemic subspecies), Eurasian Skylark, Chukar, California Quail, Wild Turkey, Erckel’s, Black, and Gray francolins and more. From the high elevations of Pu`u La`au along the slopes of Mauna Kea, we will drive to Waikoloa in search of Hawaiian Goose, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse and African Silverbill, on our way back to Kona.

Target species: Hawaii Elepaio Palila, Short-eared Owl (endemic subspecies), Eurasian Skylark, Chukar, California Quail, Wild Turkey, Erckel’s, Black, and Gray francolins, Hawaiian Goose, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, African Silverbill

Day 3

Experience Hakalau aka Hawaii’s honeycreeper heaven! Hakalau Forest NWR is a publicly restricted cloud forest reserve and is home to many of Hawaii’s endangered plants, native arthropods, and endemic birds. We will search for the unique Hawaii Creeper, the gorgeous day glow orange Akepa, the stunning long billed Akiapolaau, the Hawaiian Hawk, Omao (Hawaii Island’s endemic thrush) with beautiful I’iwi, Hawaii Amakihi, and Apapane all over the blossoms of ancient ohia trees enshrouding us.

Target species: Hawaii Creeper, Akepa, Akiapolaau, Hawaiian Hawk, Omao (Hawaii Island’s endemic thrush), I’iwi, Hawaii Amakihi, and Apapane

Day 4

We embark on a pelagic birding charter out of Honokohau Harbor with an experienced local captain for Black Noddy, Brown Noddy, Sooty Tern, Brown Booby, White-tailed Tropicbird, Great Frigatebird, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, and Bulwer’s Petrel with hopes of finding: Masked Booby, Hawaiian Petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Juan Fernandez Petrel, White-necked Petrel, Newell’s Shearwater, Leach’s Storm Petrel, Band-rumped Storm Petrel, jaegar species, South Polar Skua, incidental cetacean sightings, and more!

 

Day 5

On our last day we explore Kona’s coastal birding locations including Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant and Aimakapa Fishpond for native waders, waterfowl, Lavender Waxbill and any remaining species that have evaded us thus far.

Day 6

Depart for home from Kona airport after breakfast at the hotel.

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Details

This is the only tour of its kind! Other all-inclusive birding tours to Hawaii rush through on a cookie cutter itinerary with guides traveling from the mainland, and don’t get out on the water for pelagic species. Mandy has made Hawaii her permanent home and earns a living off of taking birders out of the city limits to experience the best Hawaii has to offer on a daily basis. She looks forward to sharing Big Island’s best birds, wildlife, food, scenery, history and culture with new friends.

 

Pricing

$3,600 (double occupancy) plus tax
Single supplement: $575

 

Included

The tour fee is $3,600 for one person in double occupancy. It includes all lodging from Day 1 through Day 5, all meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 6, all ground transportation (including airport shuttles), and the guide services of the tour leader. Tipping at group meals on pelagic trips are included in your tour fee and will be handled for you. However, if you would like to recognize your guide/ driver/ logistics coordinator for exceptional service, it is entirely appropriate to tip.

The single supplement for the tour is $575. If you do not have a roommate but wish to share, we will try to pair you with a roommate from the tour; but if none is available, you will be billed for the single supplement. Tour fees are based on double occupancy; one-half the cost of a double room is priced into the tour fee. The single supplement is calculated by taking the actual cost of a single room and subtracting one-half the cost of a double room (plus any applicable taxes).

 

Not Included

The fee does not include your airfare to and from Kona, airport taxes, transfers, visa, any checked or carry-on baggage charges imposed by the airlines, any alcoholic beverages, phone calls, laundry, or other items of a personal nature.

 

Activity Level: 3/5

To reach the highland forests where the native birds are found and search for pelagic birds by boat, we will have to start our days early, as we’ll want to be near our destinations close to dawn. Much of our birding will be easy walking on roads, wide trails, and boats. The Mauna Kea trails will be uneven, wet and can be muddy. Shoes with good grip and ankle support are recommended. You should be able to easily get in and out of a van (sometimes repeatedly), and able to walk at least three miles, where traction may not be the best and where footing is uneven. You should be prepared to bird in hot, humid, and cool environments, expect some rain. Sea conditions on the pelagic trip can range from calm seas to moderately rough, so you must have decent balance and an ability to steady yourself on a moving boat if you plan to take that trip. Those with balance and stability issues should bring a collapsible walking stick with a wrist loop, and those who find it difficult to stand for long periods should bring a small travel stool. If you’re uncertain as to whether this tour is a good match for your abilities, please don’t hesitate to contact Mandy.

 

Cancellation

Full payment is due 90 days before all-inclusive set departure date tours. Credit cards will be taken at the time of booking and charged a $500 per person non-refundable deposit. If you cancel outside of 90 days, you will receive a full refund minus your $500 deposit. If you cancel outside of 60 days, you will receive a 50% refund minus your $500 deposit. Your $500 per person deposit can be used as a credit towards another tour within one calendar year of your scheduled tour. Ifyou cancel within less than 60 days of the tour no refund fees will be provided. No shows are responsible for 100% of trip fees.

Birds You May See

Iiwi, Hawaii Amakihi, Apapane, Hawaii Creeper, Akepa, Akiapolaau, Palila, Hawaii Elepaio, Omao, Red-billed Leiothrix, Yellow-fonted Canary, Common Waxbill, African Silverbill, Saffron Finch, Yellow-billed Cardinal, Eurasian Skylark, Pacific Golden Plover, Wandering Tattler, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Goose, Short-eared Owl, Hawaiian Hawk,  Erckel’s Francolin, Black Francolin, Gray Francolin, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Kalij Pheasant, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Newell’s Shearwater, Bulwer’s Petrel, Hawaiian Petrel, Mottled Petrel, Juan Fernandez Petrel, White-necked Petrel, Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, Red-footed Booby, Brown Booby, Masked Booby, White-tailed Tropicbird, Brown Noddy, Hawaiian Noddy

 

Full bird list and download option will go here

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Coming soon:

A Comprehensive Checklist of the Birds of Hawaii

A free, downloadable guide with information on the best time of year to see each every expected species in Hawaii, complete with emphasis on endemic, threatened, and endangered species.

 

Get Notified When this Guide is Released:

Meet Your Guide

Mandy Talpas

My goal with every birding trip is to help you view, learn about, and enjoy more birds! Whether you envision casually cruising the coastline in search of seabirds, chasing after endemic forest birds, exploring local hot spots, or all of the above. I am dedicated to providing customized excursions to create your ultimate Hawaii birding experience.

My promise on every eco-tour is to ensure that each guest is having a great time while learning about Hawaii’s alluring flora and fauna. When I’m not guiding I am proud to be involved in local avian conservation initiatives. I look forward to sharing Hawaii’s beautiful birds, unique wildlife, and the projects in place to help save them, with you.

Learn more about Mandy »

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Need another reason to book this tour?

This is the only tour of its kind! Other all-inclusive birding tours to Hawaii rush through on a cookie-cutter itinerary with guides traveling from the mainland, and don’t get out on the water for pelagic species. Mandy has made Hawaii her permanent home and earns a living off of taking birders out of the city limits to experience the best Hawaii has to offer on a daily basis. She looks forward to sharing Big Island’s best birds, wildlife, food, scenery, history and culture with new friends.

Learn more »