Birding & Photography Tours

Jack is an experienced birding guide, world-renowned bird photographer, and a retired Wildlife Biologist for Hakalau Forest NWR. He has been involved in the conservation of Hawaii's native birds for almost 50 years and leads birding and photography tours to Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, which has the highest density of native forest birds in Hawaii. Hakalau Forest NWR is home to the critically endangered `Akiapola`au, as well as the endangered ‘Alawi (Hawai’i Creeper)and Hawai’i `Akepa. Hakalau Forest also has large populations of `I`iwi, `Hawaii Amakihi, `Apapane, Hawaii `Elepaio, `Omao as well asNene, or Hawaiian Goose, and Hawaiian Hawk or `Io. Pueo are often seen on the drive to the refuge.The Big Island is the only Island in the Hawaiian Archipelago where seven Hawaiian Honeycreeper species can be seen.

Jack also leads Birding and Photography tours to the Palila Discovery Trail on Mauna Kea, and the Pu’u O’o Trail, bothon the Big Island of Hawaii.

For a birding tours, Jack provides 4X4 transportation, lunch, drinks, snacks, and a few bad jokes. There is a TWO PERSON MINIMUM. Additionally, other people may be added, other people may be added to the group for a maximum group size of 4 people for the trip. Note: Because of the long driving times to Hakalau Forest NWR, this is a full day tour and cannot be combined with other tours.

For custom Birding Tours and Bird Photography Tours, and availability, please contact Jack for prices.

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge

This old growth rainforest refuge is on the eastern slopes of Mauna Kea Volcano and has the best birding for native forest bird species on the Big Island. At the refuge, we start our hike in the parking area at 6,500 feet elevation and hike slowly downhill, birding along the way. Because we are birding, we walk in hours per mile, not miles per hour. Depending on what birds we see, and each client’s abilities, we hike downhill about ½ to ¾ mile along a rough gravel road,looking for birds in the forest trees. The weather, often misty and wet, and hiking conditions that can be slippery over several steep slopes, the hike can be strenuous for anyone unfit, or with heart problems, or other medical conditions that may limit their hiking ability.

This area is a rainforest and gets between 80 and 100 inches of precipitation/rain annually. It will likely rain on us at some point during the day. Generally, the weather is nice in the morning with rainy/misty afternoons. Expect temperatures about 40-60 degrees F, depending on the time of year and cloud cover. Binoculars are the only way to see the tiny birds high in the tree canopy. Scopes generally don’t work well because the birds are constantly moving.

Pu’u La’au and Pu’u O’o Trail

The critically endangered Palila,a finch billed Hawaiian Honeycreeper, is found high on the western slopes of Mauna Kea in the dry Mamani-Naio Forests. This Endangered Honeycreeper feeds almost exclusively on the seeds of the Mamane tree. Once foundin the dry forests on the upper slopes of both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, it is now restricted to a small area on Mauna Kea, in and near the Palila Discovery Trail at 7400 ft elevation.This easy to hike loop trail winds through the Mamane-Naio forest for about one mile. Several other native species can be found in this area including the Hawaii Amakihi and the high elevation form of the Hawaii ‘Elepaio.

The Pu’u O’o Trail is on the slopes of Mauna Loa at 6,000 ft elevation. The trail starts along the Saddle Road between the 22-23 milemarkers. This relatively easy to hike trail winds in and out of native forest kipuka and lava flows. The portion that we hike is about two miles round trip, and is home to many native forest birds including I’iwi, ‘Apapane, Hawaii ‘Amakihi, Hawaii ‘Elepaio and the endangered ‘Akiapola’au.

If you are staying in the Hilo area, Jack can pick you up at nearby hotels, hostels or B&B’s. If you are staying in the Kona area, Jack can meet you at a prearranged spot on the Saddle Road.

No deposit is needed to book a trip. We’ll collect funds on the day of the trip. For payment... sorry, we don’t take credit cards…. but do take checks, cash, andPayPal.

If you have any questions or would like to book a trip, please contact Jack at