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It depends on which birds you’d like to target. The breeding season for our endemic forest birds is our wet season from January through May with our shorebirds visiting from August until the beginning of May. Our seabird nesting seasons vary depending on species and peak time for transequatorial pelagic migrants are mid-March through early May and again from early September into October.

Our all-inclusive birding trips reflect when birding is best here in Hawaii and even day trip offerings are sparse from late June until mid-August.

Hawaii is busier around the holidays and during summer break with most hotel and flight pricing reflecting even more inflated rates then. Most of our park permits don’t allow us to run commercial activity on weekends, state or federal holidays, and we prefer to spend the holidays with our loved ones, not working.

And yes, you guessed it, Hawaii is a dream destination for birders and nonbirders alike, there really isn’t an off-tourist season or more affordable time to come with some of the best weather on the planet. We invite birders and they’re non-birding loved ones to join us on an all-inclusive bucket list Hawaii tour called Birding & Beyond Hawaii.

The highlights of most bird photography tours around the world are usually created with feeders and blind setups, which are not currently permitted in Hawaii; in addition to the use of playback. Most of our endemic birds are endangered species, making playback illegal. We at Hawaii Bird Tours will not use playback with native Hawaiian birds whether it’s the breeding season or not, whether the species is currently listed federally or statewide, this is our own policy as stewards for our native species, who are all in peril. Playback is also not permitted in the national wildlife refuges in Hawaii, like Hakalau Forest NWR, even for introduced species.

The ecosystems here in Hawaii are very fragile and we will not damage or remove native vegetation or alter the natural environment, or displace any native wildlife, no matter how small, for a better photo opportunity.

Bird photographers are welcome on all of our excursion offerings but photographers must keep in mind that our group tours are designed for birders and their loved ones to enjoy Hawaii’s native species in their native environment without negatively impacting Hawaii’s wildlife. Most bird photographers are content on our group tours, since most are target bird driven. After spending a lot of time in search for the few endemic species we can still find in Hawaii we will enjoy the bird for as long as the bird allows us to without disrupting their natural behavior or habitat. None of our birding tours are fast paced. Sadly, Hawaii is the extinction capital of the world but it does allow us more time on our adventures to enjoy the species we can still find, where we are, and who we are with.

***We are open to arranging custom bird photography tours if we have availability. We have arranged private bird photography experiences in the past and we understand that more time, several attempts and different departures, are often needed to satisfy serious wildlife photographers.

We can provide the definitive list upon booking a tour with us.

Yes, guests of all abilities are welcome on our tours. Although some of our birding destinations are in remote areas we will do our best to accommodate guests no matter what their disability or mobility challenge might be. We believe that birding is for everyone, regardless of a disability or health concern. Please don’t hesitate to inquire about which tour might best suit you.

Our group birding adventures are designed for guests ages 10 and up. Exceptions can be made on a case by case basis when accompanied by an adult with their legal guardians consent; families with young children are encouraged to consider customized private excursions. We are thrilled to offer opportunities to foster young birders and that is part of why Mandy is involved with young birder initiatives.

There are currently 3 Maui endemic bird species left, Maui ʻAlauahio (Maui Creeper), ʻAkohekohe (Crested Honeycreeper), and Kiwikiu (Maui Parrotbill) . The Maui ʻAlauahio is the only species persisting in an area open to the public and commercial tours.

The Maui Nature Conservancy has refused access to allow commercial tour operators into the Waikamoi Preserve, which is the only accessible area where ʻAkohekohe and Kiwikiu can sometimes still be encountered. Maui TNC has also refused access to Haleakalā National Park staff and Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project staff-led hikes, which used to be offered regularly. Despite countless attempts of reaching out to Maui TNC with our willingness to offer guided birding trips as unpaid docents and conservationists, in addition to some of our guests offering thousands of dollars in donations for just one opportunity, and Mandy previously volunteering with Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project within Waikamoi Preserve, we are currently still be turned away by Maui TNC.

According to Maui TNC’s Waikamoi webpage the ONLY way to try and see Kiwikiu, a critically endangered species with less than 120 known wild individuals and the endangered ʻAkohekohe, was to hope to be one of the 6 lucky guests who got through their registration lottery 30 days before their scheduled hike on the second Saturday of the month, which are now postponed indefinitely.

The only other species on Maui, not found on any of the other islands in Hawaii is the Orange-cheeked Waxbill, which is not considered countable by the American Birding Association. It is considered countable by the American Ornithological Society (and approved by our Hawaii Birds Records Committee) and recorded sightings, but they continue to remain nomadic.

There is also the added current stress on our Maui ohana after the devastating Lahaina fires. With so many of our Maui residents losing their homes and businesses, most of the hotels still standing in western Maui are still at full capacity with locals trying to regroup, rebuild and persevere.

We do still encourage interested visitors to seek out legal accommodations in East Maui to support our friends running local businesses and local eco-tours on Maui.

If you are interested in hiring Mandy and/ or Patti for a customized private excursion on Maui. We are happy to cater to your requests as best we can based on our availability and for those of you traveling alone, or seeking a more affordable option, we recommend booking a day trip with our friend Wendy.

Although the Mōhihi Waiʻalae Trail is open to the public and we’ve got an off-roading vehicle with a lift and off-roading tires to get you down the The Mōhihi-Camp 10 Road, for liability reasons.

Even to those friends seeking a true sense of extreme adventure, willing to brave stream crossings, a 1,600’ elevation gain, narrow, muddy, overgrown trails for covering 8 -10 miles of challenging terrain in a day, sadly the ʻAkikiki are functionally extinct in the wild with less than 6 known individuals remaining and the ʻAkekeʻe are unfortunately following closely behind them, in addition to always being a challenge to find with their nomadic behavior and canopy foraging.

The secretive Puaiohi are thankfully not being impacted by avian malaria and avian pox from invasive southern house mosquito vectors like most Hawaiian honeycreepers, but they remain critically endangered with a population of less than a few hundred individuals from ongoing threats from invasive predatory rats and cats.

Our last glimpses of easily accessible Puaiohi along the famous Alakaʻi Swamp Trail was 2016. Our last view of ʻAkekeʻe along this trail was 2018 and our last ‘I’iwi along this trail was 2019. Although we retain permits to off-road you to access the Alakaʻi Swamp Trail (as it is illegal for commercial tour operators to use the miserably slippery Pihea Trail) our scouting efforts leave much more to be desired.
We are currently offering day trips and excursions as part of our all-inclusive tours to the few last and more easily accessible territories we’ve scouted for ʻAnianiau, ʻApapane, Kauaʻi ʻElepaio and hopes of Kauaʻi ʻAmakihi in Kōkeʻe State Park.

We would love to offer day tours on Kauai’s North shore but unfortunately Hanalei NWR is not open to the public, and doesn’t currently allow any commercial tours on their property; although we hope this changes in the future.

Although Kilauea Point NWR is open to the public and commercial tours, their current hours are very limited, not within optimal hours best for birding, only allow reservations up to 2 months in advance, and currently limit guests to 30 minute visits; although we hope this changes in the future. If you are interested in visiting Kilauea Point NWR on your own please be sure to check their limited hours and make your online reservation.

We do offer day trips to search for Kauai’s endemic forest birds and waterbirds on the west side of the island and briefly bird Kauai’s north shore on our multi-day tours.

If you are interested in hiring Mandy, Maria and/ or Patti for a customized private excursion on Kauai. We are happy to cater to your requests as best we can based on our availability.

We would love to offer tours to any and all of these refuges, but unfortunately none of them are open to the public, and don’t currently allow any commercial activities on their properties; although we hope this changes in the future.

Thankfully we’ve been able to find the native waterbirds, endemic forest birds, and sought after shorebirds in other locations on O‘ahu that are open to us.

Although the Palila Discovery Trail is open to the public, open to permitted commercial tour operators and we’ve got an off-roading vehicle with a lift and off-roading tires to get you there, the Palila population has recently crashed. The Palila population has tragically plummeted, even more than previously thought. 2019 was honestly the last year we were confidently able to track our Palila friends down to share with everyone. Although Hawaii has continued to get warmer and drier gradually over time due to global climate change, the ongoing drought from the last 2.5 years has unfortunately sped up the process. Our native subalpine dry forest the Palila call home on Mauna Kea is not in good shape without enough precipitation. Without enough mamanae seed pods (90% of the Palila’s diet) the Palila’s population has gone from just over 1,000 individuals to what researchers believe to be less than a few hundred individuals. This is of course is in addition to already current stresses Palila already face without receiving proper management, like: predation by invasive rats, mongoose, and cats; a fragmented forest due to overgrazing from invasive pigs, goats and sheep; and the spread of diseases (avian malaria and avian pox) by introduced mosquitoes below 5,000′ above sea level.

Please know, this is not to say it’s not worth trying, we just don’t feel it’s fair to advertise regularly scheduled trips to see a species we found so infrequently in 2021 -23. Mandy and Pippa still regularly scout previous Palila territories, especially if we know of reputable sightings within accessible areas, so if it’s a bird you’d really like to search for with us, let us know. We are happy to cater to your requests as best we can based on our availability.

We’re sorry to hear you didn’t book with us directly, as we believe any proper birding trip to the islands deserves at least one trip out on the water in search of our magnificent pelagic seabirds OR perhaps you’ve already been out on the water with us and are looking forward for more pelagic birding adventures with Mandy and her team.

Please keep an eye out for our Hawaii Pelagics tour that is coming soon and consider one of our advertised Kona Pelagic Birding Adventures, setting up a customized private pelagic birding adventure off Oahu, Kauai or Kona, or better yet, join us for one of our Hawaii Pelagic Birding blitz weeks!

We encourage you to join us on educational and informative birding adventures in a fun and judgment free environment. Birders of all experience are welcome on all of our tours. Many of our previous guests were new to birding, got enticed to bird more with us, and on their own, or new to hiring a guide and/ or going on an organized birding tour.

No worries at all! If they appreciate the natural world and have patience for target birding they’ll most likely have patience for a day trip with us. If they’re not as into birding and nature as you, we recommend you hire Mandy to offer you a customized private adventure with birding, history, culture, sightseeing, and foodie stops OR you consider booking one of our bird guides to take you birding while our adventure guide and Hawaiian historian, Patti, caters to their interests of the non-birders with a customized private excursion.

Mandy has been in several long-term relationships with partners not interested in birding and understands there are just some destinations worth experiencing together without compromises. This is why she is elated to team up with Patti for a bucket list extravaganza for you the birder, and your non-birding loved one(s) for the ultimate all-inclusive Hawaii experience, Birding & Beyond in Hawaii.

Mandy will do her best to accommodate you depending on her availability. Her advertised tours through Hawaii Bird Tours are catered to those who want to experience the culture, food, history, geology, history and wildlife of the destination, whether it be Hawaii or abroad.

If you are a big year birder, hardcore twitcher, etc we recommend you consider booking day trips, preferably during one of our pelagic blitz’s, not booking one of our all-inclusive tours, and/ or consider reaching out to Mandy for a customized private excursion. Please understand she is a sought-after guide and planning 6 months or more in advance is highly encouraged. Please also understand, this is not the mainland. Although Mandy is an East Coast lady, born and raised just outside of Philly and NYC, travel and most other daily activities happen within an ‘island’ time frame in Hawaii. Take it from Mandy, who rarely accepts no as an answer, there is only so much in your control when accessing particular areas, traveling from destination to destination quickly, on top of hoping that rare and critically endangered species it is important we have a real understanding of proper birding ethics.

Although Mandy and Patti led tours to Pearl Harbor regularly for other tour operators for years, we’re honestly both happy to not be anymore. The park doesn’t even want guides accompanying guests, since the Arizona Memorial tickets are already so limited. We don’t recommend paying for an overpriced tour, which are basically just shuttles to the park. You can easily get an uber, lyft, or cab there and back without dealing with the headache of finding parking at your Waikiki accommodations or spending over $30 per day to keep a rental at a hotel. You can make your own reservations for tickets to the Arizona for only $1.

If you’re not interested in the Arizona or you didn’t get tickets to the Arizona, it’s free for you to visit the park and you can easily purchase tickets to the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum once they get there:

Remember, if you’re booking an all-inclusive multi-day Hawaii tour directly with us, we can easily extend your stay in Waikiki for up to 3 additional nights at our group rate without additional fees; if given enough notice (the earlier the better and over 30 days notice is best).

Yes, we are happy to eBird for our guests so they can focus on enjoying the birds, where they are, and who they’re with. No need to be staring down at your phone and typing away, distracting yourself or others on tour with which bird had which Hawaiian name or which hotspot we’re currently birding from.

We strive to share checklists within the same day of your adventure with us but sometimes we may need more time to get them out to you if we’re on a multi-day trip with you and especially with pelagic trips.

We will not be responsible for sharing, not sharing, or hiding checklists from guest(s) who might have, or might not have ‘seen’ the bird. It is ‘your list’ to edit as you wish and we as guides refuse to get in the middle of competitive listing arguments.

We encourage everyone taking pictures to use our shared eBird checklists as a place to share their photos. We try to share any of the photos we take during our adventures with you here when possible, but we are not to be held responsible for ‘providing photos.’ Our job as good guides is to get all of you on the bird before we lift one of our own cameras to try and get a photo, which is why we often can’t or don’t get ‘the nat geo pic.’

You don’t have to have an eBird account to view the online checklists and/ or trip reports we create. Whether you keep a species list, take photos, videos, recordings, or not; this is a fun way to have our memories stored somewhere safe and shared with those who want the references.

Most of our guests who are new to Hawaii use these as references on tour with us:
Hawaii Audubon’s ‘Hawaii Birds’ latest (7th edition from 2020) American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Hawaii.

***We personally prefer A Pocket Guide to Hawaii’s Birds and Their Habitats: New Edition by Pratt, Jeffrey, and others in addition to this must have by Howell and Zufelt: Oceanic Birds of the World: A Photo Guide. We, among many others, have been waiting impatiently in anticipation of an updated version of Pratt’s A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific.

There’s no denying that in the field sometimes apps can be much more useful. Although Merlin now includes a Hawaii pack option for free, it is not quite comprehensive, and still currently lacks the ability to identify songs and calls in the field well (but you have us for that). Mandy still honestly prefers using iBird Pro Guide to Birds in Hawaii. There are still some species with limited illustrations and photos, but the paid North American version does include native and rare birds, including Hawaii, OR you can just buy the iBird Hawaii & Palau.

We recommend you visit Volcanoes National Park at the end of your birding adventures with us to help prevent the spread of Rapid Ohia Death found in the park.

Mandy, Pippa, Patti, and our tour van, Black Beauty, operate out of Kona and a drive to Volcano can easily take 2 hours if you go straight there non-stop. The park is huge and that doesn’t involve driving around the park once you get there. We can assure you that your best chances of seeing all Big Island’s birds, with the exception of a rare vagrant, don’t warrant a trip to Hilo or Volcano side of Big Island. We do understand that some of you want to explore the park, but none of us have the interest in offering a day trip there and back to Kona, with more than half the day spent sitting in a van or bus.

If you do want to vists we recommend you spend a night or two on that side to truly enjoy the experience, have an opportunity to view the glow at night if lava is visible, and properly sanitize your gear upon entering and leaving (just as we would if on tour together).


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