When the Hawaiian Islands were first studied by ornithologists in the nineteenth century, they were a bird paradise. The forests abounded with many of the most unusual birds known to the world—some with enormous sickle-shaped bills, some resembling parrots, a goose that spent most of its life on barren lava flows, a tiny flightless rail, and a sea bird that nested within the vents of the active volcanoes. Most of these island birds were found nowhere else in the world.
Today many of the original island species are extinct, while others are barely managing to hold their own. With more and more land being cleared for agriculture and homesites, virgin forests here are becoming scarce. Thus, protected areas like Hawaii Volcanoes and Haleakala National Parks take on great significance as reserves where the native birds will continue to survive. If you wish to learn about Hawaiian birdlife, you will certainly want to spend some time in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and visit Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui. This booklet is meant to be an aid to your trips in the field.