Krazy for Kolea Kontest now in 16th year

| July 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

Kolea with geolocator on leg. Photo courtesy Wally Johnson

Kolea with geolocator on leg. Photo courtesy Wally Johnson


Win a prize for reporting a kolea

By Arleone Dibben-Young

The kolea, Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva), was considered by ancient Hawaiians to be the embodiment of the god of healing and is revered in mythology as Koleamoku, a messenger of high chiefs. Large flocks of kolea on their northern migration may have aided ancient navigators with the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands.

Within a few weeks, the kolea will make a transoceanic southbound migration between breeding grounds in Alaska to wintering locals as far away as Madagascar. A recent study conducted in the Hawaiian Islands tracked migrating kolea fitted with light level (daylight measuring) geolocators (data loggers): birds were tracked at speeds from 36 to 118 miles per hour, and with an average flight between Hawaii and Alaska taking 40 hours.

Earliest returnees to Hawaii are typically females that may have experienced a failed nesting attempt or perhaps did not bond with a mate during the breeding season. Adult males normally appear by the end of August, followed by juveniles in October.

The kolea is easily recognized by its bold black and white breeding plumage called “alternate.” However, this is lost by winter. Kolea are long-lived (20-plus years), territorial and annually return to the same location. This returning behavior was first recognized by Max Schlemmer on Laysan Island, whose “Old Stump Leg,” a one-legged kolea, returned annually around 1900. Many Molokai residents have named their distinguished winter residents and note arrival and departure dates on calendars.

Report the return of a kolea and win a prize. Include date, time, and location. The observer of the first confirmed sighting will win a Kolea Research T-shirt from the Hawaii Audubon Society. The nine runner-up observers will receive a gift certificate for a scoop of ice cream at Kamoi Snack ‘N Go. Any individual reporting a banded kolea will receive $20, and the observer of the one-legged kolea marked with a green band over a silver band will receive $100.

Bands are read as if reading a book – bird’s left leg top band bottom band, bird’s right leg top band bottom band. Some birds will have bands on one leg only while others will have bands on both legs. All banded birds will be confirmed.

To report your kolea, call Arleone at 553-5992 or email researchbirds@yahoo.com. Winners will be announced in September.

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