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When you visit Hawaii, one of the first things you may notice is the abundance of birds here. Yes, some are your run-of-the-mill pigeons. But if you look closer, or if you take an extended guided hike, you may also see some rare, beautiful birds, some of which are native only to Hawaii.
If you see any of these distinct birds, you’ll definitely want to take notice. Out of the 70 bird species native to Hawaii, 23 are extinct and 30 of the remaining 48 species or subspecies are listed as endangered.
What does all that mean? It means you should enjoy these amazing animals while you can because many of them won’t be around for long.
To do that, you can enlist the help of a professional birdwatching tour company and pay a fee. OR, you can enlist the help of Birdingpal, a free service that connects interested birdwatchers with “pals” in the area who will take them around to look at the area’s birds.
Birdingpal is designed for travelers who want to explore the native bird population in the area where they’re visiting. For example, if you’re here in Hawaii on Oahu and would like to spend some time exploring the island’s birds, you can visit the birdingpal website, find a local birding “pal,” and contact him or her. Each birding “pal” has a description of his or her interests, experience, and availability — you decide if this person is the right fit for you.
Of course, there are some “rules,” by which you should abide. According to the company’s website, “You don’t need to be an expert birder to contact a Pal. However these are serious birdwatchers who are willing to help. It is a privilege to contact them. Your message should reflect decent respect.”
In addition, “A Birding Pal does not charge a fee, however you should pay for their expenses, transportation costs, entrance fees, meals, etc. A local Pal does not get paid, but should he/she offer to take you out birding, using their own vehicle, it would be courteous to pay for the fuel. A lunch and/or a small gift would also be appropriate, something as simple as a souvenir of your country, or a pin from your local birding club.”
After your excursion, you can even let the company know how it went and give them any suggestions you have for improvement.
On the Birdingpal Hawaii webpage, only four “pals” were currently listed, but they covered both the Big Island and Oahu. And, keep in mind, if you’re interested in a professional tour, you can also find these services through the company’s webpage.
For the amateur birdwatcher — or even someone who has an interest in birds — this free service may just be the right move, especially since professional birdwatching tours can be expensive.
So, the next time you’re in Hawaii, consider contacting a birding “pal,” and explore Hawaii’s beautiful birds up close and personal!