Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back from Hawaii

Maui Grey Francolin
In late July, we took a vacation on the island of Maui in Hawaii, and while we were there we kept an eye out for the local critters. We saw many, although few are native to the islands. Birds, lizards, goats and mongeese, to name a few.  Here is the noisiest of them, the grey francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus).

Frankolin Hen and Chicks, Top View
We noticed these birds soon after we arrived. It would be hard not to. They are one of the largest birds in the area,  and did not seem to mind humans coming within a few feet of them.   We were marveling at these birds in a Kihei park when an apparently inebriated local gave us a 5 minute dissertation on how noisy they are.  When we asked what they are called, he struggled to remember, but could not think of it.  But as he walked away, he yelled back,  "Oh yeah, I remember, they are 'Franklins'".

Francolin Chicks Learning to Squawk
The francolins were brought to Hawaii from India in the late 1950's to establish a flock of game birds.  They have flourished on the islands.  It appears they have no local predators, but if they continue to squawk at the top of their lungs at sunrise, just outside of the hotel rooms and condominiums of late sleeping vacationers, this might change!  Just as the sun comes up these guys can make one heck of a racket.  And there were several flocks of them scurrying around the gardens, lawns and open spaces near our hotel.  We saw a couple of litters of young as well.

They look a bit like partridge or quail, and are about the same size. If you plan to visit Maui, and like to get up with the sun, just leave your windows open and you'll have an authentic Maui alarm clock awakening.

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