Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge

Country/territory: USA

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A4i (2009)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 371 ha

Audubon / American Bird Conservancy
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2009 not assessed high low
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Site description (2011 baseline)
The 917-acre (371-hectare) Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1972 to conserve four species of endangered waterbirds, and is located in Hanalei Valley on the north shore of the island of Kauai. The refuge consists of 300 acres (121 hectares) of the flat floor of Hanalei Valley, a portion of the Hanalei River, which is a designated American Heritage River, and adjacent steep slopes and ridges. The floor of Hanalei Valley is approximately 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide and was formed by erosion and alluvial deposits from the Hanalei River, which meanders through the valley. The valley floor ranges in elevation from 10 feet (3 meters) near the Hanalei Bridge to 40 feet (12 meters) at the refuge's southern boundary, and the refuge extends up to 400 (121 meters) feet on adjacent ridges. The Hanalei area has been used by people to cultivate taro and rice for about 1,000 years. The USFWS allows several farmers to cultivate taro on the refuge under a special use permit. Water from the river is diverted through a system of ditches, channels, and pipelines to irrigate 186 acres of taro fields and 62 acres of wildlife impoundments before returning to the river. Average monthly temperature at the refuge ranges from the lower to upper 70s (?F) throughout the year, and the median annual rainfall is about 80 inches (2 meters). Vegetation on the refuge is dominated by naturalized alien species. A paved county road passes through the refuge, providing viewing access to some areas, but the wetland portions of Hanalei NWR are not open to the public.

Key biodiversity
Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge contains one of the largest concentrations of wetland birds in Hawai`i. It is an important breeding, feeding, and resting area for five bird species listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act; the Koloa or Hawaiian Duck, Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Common Moorhen, and Nene or Hawaiian Goose. The vast majority of Hawaiian Ducks occurs on Kaua`i, and Hanalei supports the largest concentration, with a maximum of 251 birds observed in August 1994. Nene were reintroduced to Kauai beginning in 1985 and are increasing rapidly. About 50 Nene were present in the Hanalei area in 2007, one of few locations where this upland goose is regularly seen in wetland habitat. Hanalei also supports a variety of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wetland birds from August-April. Some species occur primarily during migration, but others are present throughout the winter months. At least 23 species of waterfowl and 19 species of shorebirds have been observed at the refuge, and several unusual visitors are now seen regularly at Hanalei, including White-faced Ibis, Brant, and Osprey. Numerous vagrants have appeared over the years, including Baikal Teal and Golden Eagle, making Hanalei one of the top sites for wetland birds in Hawai`i.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/site/factsheet/hanalei-national-wildlife-refuge-iba-usa on 23/02/2024.