Birds of Hanalei
Hawaiian Stilt / Himantopus mexicanus knudseni / Ae‘o (one standing tall)
Ae‘o were historically known to be on all the major islands except Lāna‘i and Kaho‘olawe. As with the other Hawaiian waterbirds, historic numbers are unknown. It is believed that there were about 1,000 of them in the late 1940s.
The ae‘o can still be found on all the major islands except Lāna‘i and Kaho‘olawe, but their numbers have not increased by much. Threats to the stilt and other waterbirds include the loss of wetland habitats and introduced predators.
The ae‘o can also be seen at James Campbell NWR on O‘ahu, Kakahai‘a NWR on Moloka‘i, and Kealia Pond NWR on Maui, as well as other wetlands around the state.
Ae‘o use a variety of aquatic habitats. Nest sites are frequently separated from feeding sites and stilts move between these areas daily. Nesting sites are adjacent to or on low islands within bodies of fresh, brackish, or salt water.
Feeding habitats are shallow bodies of water providing ae‘o with a wide variety of invertebrates (e.g., aquatic insects, worms, shrimp). They like to loaf in open mudflats, pickleweed mats, and open pasture lands where visibility is good and predator populations are low.
Ae‘o have a fairly distinctive nesting season from February through August.