by Catherine Hamilton
Where many people think of a vacation paradise, of white or black sand beaches, volcanoes, or tropical cocktails, a birder approaches the islands of Hawai‘i in a slightly different fashion. A vacationer might enjoy relaxing next to an azure sea, but someone in search of the island chain’s endemic bird species is going to have to work. There will be hiking, maybe climbing, sometimes over brutal sun-baked rocks, sometimes up narrow trails with considerable elevation gains. There will be much straining of one’s neck to watch tiny and bewilderingly similar-sounding greenish-yellow birds as they race through forest canopies, a straining not unlike the “warbler neck” that paralyzes many birders in North America during migration.