Pacific Golden-Plovers love what we humans have done with the Hawaiian Islands, particularly our creation of golf courses. Hawaii has 74 statewide. (Above photo, Arnold Palmer Golf Course, Turtle Bay, Oahu.)

Knowing that golf courses were prime Kolea wintering grounds, plover expert, Wally Johnson, in 1992, counted all the Kolea he found on Oahu’s 28 (today 38) golf courses. Wally conducted the counts between January 22nd and March 26th in fair weather, meaning no high winds or heavy rain, sometimes from a cart, and sometimes on foot.

Kolea stand tall and have a distinct run-stop-run gait. They are easy to distinguish from mynahs, doves and cardinals.

Typical winter colors of Kolea. ©Susan Scott

The count totaled 1,902 birds, and contained some surprises. For Kolea density, it didn’t seem to matter if the courses were new or old, whether they were large or small (some high counts were on 9-hole courses), or where they were located. Both the highest and the lowest counts were all in the same general area, and all on 18-hole courses.

  • Least: 2 Kolea each in Honolulu Country Club (Salt Lake) and Ted Makalena Golf Course (Waipio Peninsula)
  • Most: 168 Kolea at Pearl Country Club (Aiea) and 161 at Mamala Bay Golf Course (formerly Hickam AFB Golf Course.)

Now, 28 years later, the Hawaii Audubon Society, with Wally as advisor, are trialing a statewide Kolea count, including all of Hawaii’s golf courses. Most clubs don’t allow nongolfers to wander about counting birds, but we might not need to. Golfers can count Kolea while golfing.

Mauna Kea Golf Course, Big Island.

Here’s how nature-loving golfers can help:

  1. Choose your golf course at We recently gave golf courses their own section on the far right.
  2. Open the CONTACT tab on this site, and email me, Susan, your name and the golf course you can count. I’ll sign you up on my private list, and mark the course as TAKEN.
  3. To count and report Kolea, see Guidelines and FAQs. Also email me with any questions or comments.
  4. Spread the word among fellow golfers.
  5. Large areas are easier to count with tally clickers, sold with Kolea Count T-shirts on the Audubon website’s store tab: All sales help further Kolea research. If you want a clicker and no T-shirt or book, email me, and I’ll get you one.

Humans and wildlife aren’t always compatible, but in this case, people and plovers are well-suited. The birds get to eat bugs and worms on lush, manicured fairways, while residents and visitors get to play a sport surrounded by native birds in some of the most lovely landscapes on the planet. Kolea and golfers are a match made in heaven.

Read about our still-arriving Kolea at

Kapalua Resort, Lahaina, Maui