The Endangered Gallinule at Our Kauai Rentals

Have you ever found yourself starting a project only to realize a few hours later that little has been accomplished. This has happened more times than I care to recall. My problem is that the diversion is right in the backyard of our Kauai vacation rentals. That’s it! The Waikomo Stream is to blame for my lack of motivation. The lyrical flowing of water grabs me before I see it, pushing me into a trance deeper than any yoga position.

Hawaiian Legends at our Kauai Vacation Rentals

The Elusive 'Alae 'Ula at Turtle Cove Suites


These same healing waters with their many therapeutic properties, plays another important role, as a habitat for the Hawaiian Gallinule, Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis. The Alae Ula, as it is known in Hawaiian, is an endangered species of the coastal wetlands. Observing them as they step gingerly from rock to water with the sounds of the stream as a backdrop and I almost certainly abandon my project for another day.

The most recent survey in 2005 estimated that there were only 500 nesting pairs remaining in the islands. While declines are certainly well documented, the numbers may only be an estimate. The Alae Ula is ever cautious, with an ability to inhabit and thrive in small, heavily vegetative wet areas.

Bird Watching at Our Kauai Rentals

Typically the best viewing is from our pool deck, the lush Areca palms adjacent to the stream offer effective camouflage. Move slowly and you will be rewarded as the birds go about their business of feeding and preening themselves. Attempting to venture closer and they bolt for the tall grass that grows along the shallow sides of the stream. Hiding quickly for up to 20 minutes before they continue with their daily activities.

Their legs have shades of green and orange that vary depending on their age and sex. The color vibrancy is greatest when they reach maturity. The tip of their beak can range from yellow to orange while their frontal portion of the bill is typically red. Listen to their cackle, much softer than a chicken, they are more vocal when undisturbed.

Hawaiian Legend of the Alae Ula

Hawaiian legend tells of how the Alae Ula took pity upon man for he had no fire for warmth. The Alae Ula left Kauai and flew to the island of Maui where the goddess of fire, Pele lived. The Alae Ula stole fire and brought it to Kauai for the Hawaiian people. When Pele discovered that some of her treasure was stolen, she burned the beak of the Alae Ula flaming red in retribution.

The calm that I find following the Gallinule along the Waikomo Stream is only interrupted by thoughts of what can be done to protect and preserve this refuge that makes our Kauai vacation rentals so special. The stream, its proximity to the ocean, the bird life at our doorstep, it’s what captured us 22 years ago. We hope it will be magical for you too.

Tell us what is your best thing to do on Kauai when you are relaxing by the pool at our vacation rentals.

About Joe Sylvester

Aloha! I have lived on Kauai for 33 years where I have worked as an Agronomist for 17 years, owned an art gallery for 11 years and own a vacation rental for 17 years in the town of Poipu. I am a former Peace Corps volunteer and have been married since 1985.
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