While we have recently bid aloha to the kolea for the summer season, there is another wanderer that shares a similar and remarkable travelogue. Donʻt let the somewhat drab appearance deceive you - this bird deserves our admiration, as it has recently departed the islands to make the epic journey to its summer breeding grounds in Alaska and the Yukon Territory, over 3000 miles of open water! This is the Wandering Tattler, Tringa incana, known locally as ʻulili. This grey bird is nearly a foot in length and has a wingspan slightly over two feet, with wingtips dipped in black. It has a stout grey bill, yellow legs, and a white underbelly. Like the kolea, the ʻulili takes on a breeding plumage - the underbelly, throat and breast becomes heavily barred. According to the DLNR report on the wandering tattler, they are not "particularly common" here, with most of the birds wintering on the NWHI rather than the MHI. Worldwide, its numbers are guesstimates, and audubon.org reports that it is "one of the most poorly studied birds in North America." To find ʻulili, try looking for its hangouts around shorelines and muddy flats, where it forages, similar to other members of its family, Scolopacidae, the sandpipers. They may also frequent grassy areas such as golf courses. The one pictured above was wading in the Nuʻuanu stream near Foster Botanical Garden. The tattler epithet comes from the birdʻs nervous habit of high-pitched warning calls and whistles when it perceives danger.
By Aviceda (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.