National Wildlife Refuge
|Milepost 6, Mokulele Hwy (Hwy 311)
Kihei, HI 96753
E-mail: Courtney_ Brown@fws.gov
Phone Number: 808-875-1582
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Continued . . . During the March-August nesting season of the Hawaiian stilt and coot, access must be limited to the office and parking area in order to prevent disturbance of nesting females and young of these endangered species.
Hawaiian duck and migratory waterfowl including northern shoveler, pintail, lesser scaup, mallard, common merganser, American and Eurasian wigeon and teal can sometimes be seen at a distance. Except for the Hawaiian duck, these birds are migrants from North America and eastern Asia. they arrive at Kealia in the fall, when rains swell the pond; shoveler and pintail are most abundant.
Shorebirds seen in Hawai'i are all migrants. They breed in Alaska, Canada, and Siberia and spend the winter in the tropics. Incredibly, they fly 2,000 miles or more nonstop across the ocean to reach Hawai'i; some continue on to the south Pacific after stopping to feed and rest. At Kealia Pond, these birds usually forage at the outlet and mudflats on the refuge, and on adjacent beaches. These sanderlings, ruddy turnstones, wandering tattlers, Pacific golden plovers, and a variety of other coastal migrants including yellowlegs and several species of sandpipers can be seen at relatively close range during the winter months.
In addition to native and migratory birds, a number seabirds and introduced species can be observed on or near the refuge. In the winter, gulls and terns that are rarely seen in Hawai'i may be found here. Ospreys are also regular winter visitors from the mainland. Introduced doves, finches, and cardinals are common. Cattle egrets, brought to Hawai'i from Florida to control insects on ranches, have become a threat to native wildlife; they compete with native birds for food and nest sites and may also prey on chicks. Kealia Pond teems with introduced tilapia and minnows; native fish such as awa (milkfish) and aholehole (silver perch) also occur.
A roadside pullout, boardwalk, and kiosk with self-guided interpretive exhibits have been planned along the coastal dunes and refuge wetlands near milepost 2 of North Kihei Road (Highway 31), with construction to occur within the next two years. All of the above listed species are visible from this location at some time during the year.
Although hawksbill sea turtles nest on the adjacent beach from May through December, they generally emerge only at night, are extremely rare, and must be left undisturbed if this endangered species is to remain in the Islands. A life-sized bronze sculpture of a nesting female and her eggs will provide visitors with a glimpse of this marine turtle's life history.
From November through March, close to a mile of elevated boardwalk will also provide excellent opportunities to view humpback whales, which reproduce and calve in the near-shore waters of Maalaea Bay. Viewing scopes are planned for this location to allow visitors to watch whales on the ocean and waterbirds in the wetlands.
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