Monday, June 12, 2017

Established and Spreading Fast, the Kalij Pheasant on the Big Island

Once again, in the category of "it seemed like a good idea at the time", someone decided to release a few dozen Himalayan pheasants at the Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ranch on the Big Island of Hawai'i. I'm guessing it was for hunting purposes. They didn't do much for a decade or so, but they reached some kind of population tipping point and began to spread. Their range has expanded across most of the forestlands of the Big Island, and a few have been seen on Maui and Oahu. These are the Kalij Pheasants (Lophura leucomelanos).
 I've seen them most often at the Bird Kipuka (Kipuka Puaulu) in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. They certainly add a splash of color to the forest floor, but their role in spreading disease or disrupting food sources for the native bird species is not clear. They sure are a shock when you are walking along a trail looking up and practically trip over them.

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