The Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Welcome to the Kauaʻi National Wildlife Refuge Complex

The Kauai National Wildlife Refuge Complex consists of 3 refuges across the island of Kauai, Hawai‘i.

Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge
Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
Hulē‘ia National Wildlife Refuge

The Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge and the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge are my primary work sites for the summer. Here is some general information about the two locations:                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge: 

– Established in 1972 

– Closed to the public, although there is a hiking trail that starts on the refuge’s main road that is publicly accessible

– 922-acre property

– Home to threatened & endangered waterbirds (Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian coot, Hawaiian duck, Hawaiian gallinule, and Hawaiian goose)

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge:

– Established in 1985

– Open to the public 4 days a week

– 199-acre property

– Home to a variety of seabirds (Laysan albatross, great frigatebird, red-footed booby, brown booby, red-tailed Tropicbird, white-tailed Tropicbird, Newell’s shearwater, wedge-tailed shearwater, and Hawaiian petrel)

– Visitors have the chance of seeing green sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, spinner dolphins, and humpback whales

Hawaiian gOOse (Nēnē)

Take a look at the rarest geese in the world, the Hawaiian Geese! They are also known as nēnē. these birds are slowly making a comeback to Hawai‘i. As a matter of fact, they are the state birds of Hawai‘i. 

Nēnē are endemic to Hawai‘i, they are found nowhere else in the world. These birds are herbivores, so they eat grasses, flowers, seeds, etc.

In the 1700’s, there were about 25,000 nēnē that lived on Hawai‘i Island (Big Island). By the 1950’s, there were only about 30 wild Nēnē in the world. Now, their population is approximately 3,500. The island of Kauai alone has approximately 60% of all nēnē. 

The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is a core repopulation spot for the nēnē due to the recovery and reintroduction efforts that the refuge has provided. Under the Endangered Species Act, the nēnē have recently been downlisted from endangered to threatened status! 

Hawaiian Stilts

This week at the refuge, we found a Hawaiian Stilt nest with 1 egg and a newly hatched chick! The video below demonstrates the behavior of the Hawaiian Stilt parents, as they tend to be extremely protective of their nest. These birds are ‘dive-bombing’ at us as an attempt to scare us off, while also being highly vocal. 

A closeup photo of a Hawaiian Stilt and its chick

Taro Ponds and Farming

The two pictures above represent taro farming. Taro is a root vegetable and a staple crop here in Hawaii. 

– Taro is known as kalo in the Hawaiian language, and taro ponds are referred to as loi.  

– Kalo farming takes up 160 acres of the 922-acre Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge. 

– 40% of the state’s Kalo is supplied by the refuge! 

– Taro is culturally and historically significant.

– Taro ponds provide a good habitat for the birds of the refuge 

– Taro should never be eaten raw. When consumed raw, taro can cause a burning sensation in your mouth and throat. 



1 Comment
  • Stephanie Martinez
    Posted at 22:25h, 23 June

    What a beautiful place filled with an abundance of aviary life!