A few months ago Jacob and I were talking about getting married and how we wanted to take a trip to celebrate afterwards.  It had to be less than a week long and it had to be somewhere we could both get life birds.  I did a target species search on eBird and got sucked into a blackhole of eBird checklists from Kauai involving Red-footed Boobies and all sorts of other fun birds.  I mentioned this to Jacob thinking it was probably unrealistic, but a quick search of flights showed there are direct PDX->Lihue flights daily.  Sold!

So...yeah, we got married last week and took off on Saturday for Kauai!  The first afternoon we were there we headed to Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on the north side of the island.  We had been drooling over the checklists there and it was as amazing as we had hoped!

Red-footed Booby was our number one target and we were not disappointed.  They were flying around, sitting on nests, collecting nest material, doing all the things. 

The second most conspicuous bird was the Wedge-tailed Shearwater, zipping around constantly. 

That road to the lighthouse is supposed to offer even better birdwatching but it's only open 10-4 five days a week. Though we visited twice, we never made it in.  Thankfully the lookout at the entrance was completely fine for watching the birds.

Brown Boobies were in the mix in smaller numbers.

A pair of Great Frigatebirds showed up for a bit.

One woman standing near us declared, "I don't think these are all seagulls.  I think some of these are ducks."  It's hard to imagine life as a non-birder sometimes.

This shearwater flew over which might just be a dark Wedge-tailed:

The most interesting bird of that day was this one:

We were stumped for several days on this one, but on our last evening Jacob was looking at checklists and found a similar bird reported a week or two earlier:  Kermadec Petrel!  Definitely not a bird I was expecting to see!  That white on the leading edge of the wing combined with the pattern underneath clinches it.  I looked up Kermadec Petrel on the eBird species database and found there are only 664 checklists with this bird, only 84 with photos.  84.  For comparison, Red-footed Booby is on over 12,000 checklists, 1432 with photos.  Nifty!

The next day we ended up returning in the early afternoon thinking it would be open (closed Sundays and Mondays, oops) but still had a great time.  This time the tropicbirds stole the show.

Red-tailed Tropicbirds

White-tailed Tropicbirds

Then a Laysan Albatross finally made an appearance!

The Red-footed Boobies continued to be awesome, even showing off their red feet as they prepared to land on their nests.

And a blurry but cool dark adult: 

 eBird checklists from our time at this spot can be found here and here.

I (obviously) have tons more to share from this trip but couldn't wait to share the birds that inspired it!  Thanks to Jacob for being a great travel/birding/life partner!  Good times!!!! 


  1. One woman standing near us declared, "I don't think these are all seagulls. I think some of these are ducks." It's hard to imagine life as a non-birder sometimes.

    This is the best summation of the birder brain. Bless her heart. At least she noticed, eh?

    Congratulations on life birds and life partner. My first Laysan albatross was at Kilauea, on that narrow road/bridge out to the lighthouse. It soared up and over me and I was a changed woman. I have never even heard of that beautiful petrel you saw! Great shots. One in a million, almost literally.

    1. Thanks, Laura! That was my lifer Laysan also. Such an amazing spot.

  2. Wow, congratulations! And what a great way to celebrate with some amazing birds!

    I also love the non-birder quote.

    1. Thanks, yes amazing birds are perfect for celebrating just about anything.

  3. Always tempting to go full birdsplainer when encountering non-birders and the subject of gulls comes up!
    Congrats on the nuptials!

  4. OMG congrats Jen...and Jacob!! May you have many happy returns! What a list---I've never heard of a Kermadec Petrel!!! Now the honeymoon is over so get your butts back to your 5 mile radius! haha. Cheers!!

    1. Thanks, Sondra! That petrel was definitely a new one for us also. Haha, back to the 5MR grind now.

  5. Congratulations on all accounts!

  6. Guh you saw the Kermadec! That is so sick. Agreed with WTSH on the dark bellied bird.

    Stoked you got to meet such a great assemblage of birds all at once. Congrats again!

    1. Thanks! I was shocked when we realized that we had seen that petrel.

  7. Congrats, Jen. (And for the marriage too)! 😁

  8. Ah, I love Hawaii! Haven't been to Kauai yet, although this is good temptation for me to return... congrats on the petrel! And being married!

    1. I highly recommend it! I had only been to Honolulu previously and this was a game changer.

  9. Congratulations, Jen & Jacob. Here's hoping your honeymoon lasts as long as Marty's & mine (31 years next month . . .). Cool birds and a great way to begin the rest of your lives!


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