Tern Island – Honolulu County, Hawaii - Atlas Obscura

Tern Island

Honolulu County, Hawaii

This airstrip atoll is uninhabited by humans, but absolutely full of birds. 


Tern Island, a 26-acre atoll in Hawai’i, used to be almost entirely taken up by a naval airstrip that was built in 1942 and abandoned four years afterward, following a tidal wave. Later, the Coast Guard used it as a navigation station

Before, after, and (presumably) during these military tenures, the island was frequented by many other creatures: green turtles, monk seals, and birds, birds, birds.

Airstrip construction entailed a massive reshaping of the island, leaving it eerily flat and rectangular, but the birds don’t seem to care about that. As you can see on Google Street View, they’re lined up in scores-deep regiments, as if putting on a show of force.

Where most view-able places would have buildings, bus stops, or fire hydrants, on Tern Island there are only birds—on the sand, in the bushes, in the air, and floating just offshore.

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March 14, 2018

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