Birds of Hulē‘ia
Pacific Golden Plover / Pluvialis fulva / Kōlea
The summer or breeding plumage is very colorful. The new feathers on their backs are black with gold and white flecks. They have a black belly with a white stripe from the eye down the neck to the belly.
For the last couple of weeks before they leave the islands, you can easily tell females from males. Males sport a tuxedo-like appearance as they strut their new colors for the summer. Females turn golden on top, and may even get some black feathers underneath, but never as many as the males. With breeding plumage and fattened bellies, the plovers are ready to migrate to their breeding grounds in the arctic.
No population estimates are available.
Feeding is different for shorebirds as compared to seabirds. While shorebirds forage on and in the ground, shores and wetlands, seabirds are particular about a purely marine diet! Kōlea eat a variety of items including, insects, crustaceans, berries, leaves and seeds. Kōlea can eat marine and freshwater invertebrates, too. It is interesting watching the shorebirds forage for food by a sequence of stop-run-stop! They will scan an area for food and then peck at it until it is captured. In Hawai‘i, kōlea feed on weevils, crustaceans and even snails!
Kōlea migrate 2,200 miles from Hawai‘i to the Arctic tundra for nesting. Both males and females return to the same territory in Hawai‘i year after year, and each spring around April 25, the kōlea leave their wintering grounds for arctic nesting grounds in Alaska and Siberia. It takes the kōlea two full days to reach their destination flying nonstop at approximately 60 mph.