Pacific Golden Plovers are medium-sized plovers that look similar to the American Golden Plovers. The two types of birds were actually regarded as one species until the early nineties. Though they look similar, they have some differences: the American Golden Plover normally flies to South America whereas the Kolea Golden Plover migrates from Alaska to the Pacific islands and also to Australia. Moreover, the Kolea is slimmer compared to the American species.
In Hawaii, the Pacific Golden Plover is referred to as kolea while in New Zealand the locals call it kuriri. These birds make a non-stop flight for 3 to 4 days between Alaska and Hawaii. Here is more information on the Kolea Golden Plover.
During winter, the Kolea Golden Clover has a white underside and the body is primarily yellow with brown speckles. However, as spring nears, the bird gains a breeding plumage. The breeding adults are 23 to 26cm long and have more speckles with extra whites, and the face, underside area, and the wingtips are black. The black parts and the speckled areas are separated by a thick white barring.
Kolea birds feed on insects, mollusks, crustaceans and berries. On their nesting sites they feed primarily on insects such as flies and beetles and also some berries. When migrating in open fields, they eat a wide variety of insects like caterpillars and grasshoppers. On the shorelines, they also hunt for mollusks and crustaceans. In the migrations seasons, they tend to feed on many berries.
In winter, Kolea birds can be easily spotted in Hawaii, California, Southern Asia, and Australia. During their breeding season, they can be found in Arctic Tundra from the northern part of Asia to the western part of Alaska.
Eggs and Young
The Kolea lay 4 eggs, which appear to be well camouflaged when compared to a variety of vegetation in the Tundra. Incubation is the responsibility of both parents and takes about 25 days. The male incubates during the day while the female takes on the role at night. The hatchlings can fly by themselves when they are 26-28 days old.
The Kolea plovers are fiercely territorial birds, and in Hawaii, they are known to chase off other larger birds like the Myna when they return to their territories.
During spring, normally towards the end of April, the Kolea Golden Plovers gather together in large numbers at their traditional flocking sites, prior to flying together to the Arctic region to breed.
Due to their wide-spread range and abundant numbers, these bird species has been classified by the IUCN as being a species of Least Concern, though the species is declining. In previous times, these birds were hunted for food by the residents of Hawaii, but nowadays they are considered a protected bird species.
If you are a bird lover, you can visit Kolea in Hawaii to view the Kolea Golden Plover. The Kolea in this area lives with various other birds like Bleeding Heart Dove and the Rufous Fantails.
It is also possible to find wild Kolea patrolling the lawns and picnic spots during their stay in Hawaii from mid-August to April. Like with all the birds in the area, visitors can watch and enjoy. However, visitors are advised to let the birds hunt and forage by themselves – they do not need any help getting food.