Peacocks in Hawaii?

Peacocks in Hawaii
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The vibrant colors of the peacock seem like the perfect fit for our islands’ tropical scenery. But are there peacocks in Hawaii? 

Birds Throughout Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands are home to an amazing variety of native and exotic bird species, from the majestic nene goose to the curious rose-ringed parakeet. Ancient Hawaiians revered native birds as aumakua, or ancestral spirits. They used their feathers to create magnificent capes, cloaks, and helmets for the ruling ali‘i class. 

Many of these items remain on display at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, and others in England, Scotland, New Zealand, and Australia. Sadly, many of those native bird species whose feathers were used to create those regal garments are now extinct or extremely endangered.

Peacocks in Hawaii

But perhaps the most unlikely bird species to call Hawaii home is the peacock. You can find this beautiful bird on all the major Hawaiian Islands. However, the peacock is not native to Hawaii.

The peacock first arrived in Hawaii around the mid-1800s and was beloved by royalty.

Princess Kaiulani was famous for her love of the peculiar birds, and she is sometimes referred to as the “Peacock Princess.” The statue of her likeness in Waikiki features her feeding a peacock. 

The piercing calls of peacocks echo near the Honolulu Zoo in Waikiki, where they roam the grounds freely. Some even make their way over the fence and into nearby Kapiolani Park.

Peacocks are a common site at a variety of botanical gardens on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. In some cases, feral populations have established themselves outside of protected areas. 

A Local Nuisance

As Hawaii peacock populations grow, they are becoming a pest to wildlife officials and some residents. 

Back in 2010, residents of East Honolulu were outraged when federal wildlife officials conducted the killing of 18 peacocks at the Koko Crater Botanical Gardens. As awful as that sounds, the birds were killing rare, endangered native plant species.

And that’s not the only time peacocks have made news. In 2009, a woman was charged with animal cruelty for beating a peacock to death with a baseball bat in Makaha. Evidently, the constant, shrill cries of the birds pushed the woman over the edge. Public opinion split between those who agreed that peacocks are a nuisance, those who called for animal rights advocacy, and those who said, “Who cares?” A jury found the woman not guilty.

At any rate, peacocks are here to stay. They’ve been here for more than 150 years, and they appear to like it. There is a neighborhood in east Oahu where it is not uncommon to observe one or more peacocks lounging casually on the rooftops of the homes there.

Where to Find Peacocks in Hawaii

A Peacock in Hawaii

On Oahu, the best places to spot peacocks are the Honolulu Zoo and Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden. On Maui, try the Garden of Eden Maui Botanical Gardens and Arboretum. Kauai’s Smith Family Garden is home to a thriving population, as is Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. So love them or hate them, you may see a peacock during your Hawaii vacation. And when you do, you’ll know that you’re looking at a beautiful (but sometimes annoying) species that matches the majestic scenery of Hawaii.