Parker Ranch Game Birds
The Island of Hawaii is home to a wide variety of game birds, affording hunting opportunity that can be experienced in few other places. Fourteen varieties of winged game, of all sizes, shapes, and origins are presently available to Parker Ranch hunters. Some have existed on the island 150 years or more, others less than 50. Many share a common habitat. In a single hunting excursion, one may experience the explosive flush of a 3-ounce Japanese quail alongside the impressive rise of a 20-pound wild turkey. This large selection of game, coupled with the Ranch’s varied habitat, provides challenge for both the novice and experienced upland game bird hunter.
Wild turkeys were the first birds deliberately introduced as game in Hawaii in 1788, and the Rio Grande variety is well established on the island. These birds are particularly plentiful on Parker Ranch, which offers a fall either-sex hunt, and a spring hunt for bearded gobblers.
By 1865, Ring-necked Pheasants and California Valley quail were well established on the island and provided sport shooting. Both birds are available to Ranch hunters. The locally popular Blue (Melanistic Mutant) pheasant is also present on the Ranch, as are hybrids with the Ring-neck. Plumage of these birds is popular in Hawaii feathered lei making.
Chukars were successfully introduced on the island in 1949 and populate large areas of Mauna Kea. They can generally be found in the higher Ranch elevations near rocky outcroppings.
The three species of Francolins that are found on the Ranch, natives of Africa and southern Asia, along with the Indian sandgrouse, are results of a 1960’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service importation and release program. The Erckel’s francolin is well established island wide, and found on large portions of Parker Ranch. It is a pheasant-sized bird that holds well for dogs and is a strong flier. The smaller Black and Gray francolins have a preference for drier lower coastal areas of the Ranch. The Black francolin cock is a spectacularly colored game bird and makes an attractive mount.
Sandgrouse are related to pigeons, and are strong, rapid fliers. They tend to congregate in pasture areas where water is present. Care should be taken not to confuse them with the migratory Golden plover, which is not a game bird.
Hawaii’s organized game bird introduction programs were supplemented by importation, rearing, and release efforts undertaken by local ranches. A 1960’s era game bird release program conducted by the owners of adjacent Puu Waawaa Ranch was responsible for the establishment of the Himalaya-native Kalij pheasant, which is now plentiful island wide, and generally found in the forested areas of the Ranch.
Following is a summary of game birds found in the varied habitats of Parker Ranch:
- Chukar (Alectoris chukar)
- Barred (Zebra) Dove (Geopelia striata)
- Spotted (Lace-necked) Dove (Streptopelia chinesis)
- Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus)
- Erckel’s Francolin (Francolinus erckelii)
- Gray Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus)
- Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelana)
- Melanistic Mutant (“Blue”) Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus mut. tenebrosis)
- Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
- California Quail (Callipepla californica)
- Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica)
- Chestnut-bellied (Indian) Sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus)
- Rio Grande Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)