Common Birds Of Hawaii: Native, Migratory, Endangered, Introduced, Seabirds, And Forest Birds

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Explore the rich avian fauna of Hawaii, from the vibrant ‘I’iwi to the majestic Laysan Albatross. Uncover the unique features and conservation status of the , migratory, endangered, introduced, seabirds, and forest birds found in the Hawaiian archipelago.

Native Birds of Hawaii

‘I’iwi

The ‘I’iwi is a stunning native bird of Hawaii that is known for its vibrant red plumage and curved, slender bill. This beautiful bird is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and can be found in the native forests of both Maui and Hawaii. The ‘I’iwi plays a vital role in pollination as it feeds on nectar from various native flowers, including the ohia lehua tree. Its long bill is perfectly adapted for reaching deep into the flowers to extract nectar. Unfortunately, the ‘I’iwi population has been declining due to habitat loss and the spread of invasive species. Efforts are being made to protect and conserve this iconic bird.

‘Apapane

The ‘Apapane is another native bird of Hawaii that is known for its vibrant red plumage. It is often found in the native forests of Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai. This small bird is highly adapted for nectar feeding and plays a crucial role in pollination. The ‘Apapane has a unique feeding technique where it hovers in front of flowers, using its long, curved bill to extract nectar. It also feeds on insects and spiders, making it a valuable contributor to the ecosystem. The ‘Apapane is a common sight in the forests of Hawaii, but like many native birds, it faces threats from habitat loss and invasive species.

‘Amakihi

The ‘Amakihi, also known as the Hawaiian honeycreeper, is a small native bird that can be found in the forests of all the main Hawaiian Islands. It is known for its bright yellow plumage and its unique ability to feed on a variety of food sources. The ‘Amakihi has a specialized bill that allows it to extract nectar from flowers, as well as feed on insects, spiders, and even plant matter. This adaptability has contributed to its success in surviving in different habitats across the islands. However, like many native birds, the ‘Amakihi faces threats from habitat loss and the introduction of non-native species.

‘Elepaio

The ‘Elepaio is a native bird of Hawaii that is known for its distinctive song and its ability to catch insects in mid-air. This small bird can be found in the forests of all the main Hawaiian Islands and is often seen flitting from tree to tree, searching for insects. The ‘Elepaio has a unique hunting technique where it hovers in the air before diving down to catch its prey. It also feeds on spiders, small lizards, and berries. The ‘Elepaio is an important part of the ecosystem as it helps to control insect populations. However, like many native birds, it is facing threats from habitat loss and the spread of invasive species.

‘Oma’o

The ‘Oma’o, also known as the Hawaiian thrush, is a native bird that can be found in the forests of Maui and Hawaii. It is known for its melodious song and its olive-green plumage. The ‘Oma’o plays a vital role in seed dispersal as it feeds on various fruits and berries, helping to spread the seeds throughout the forest. It also feeds on insects and spiders. The ‘Oma’o is an important indicator of forest health, as its presence indicates a thriving ecosystem. However, like many native birds, it is threatened by habitat loss and the introduction of non-native species.


Migratory Birds of Hawaii

Pacific Golden-Plover

Did you know that the Pacific Golden-Plover embarks on an incredible journey each year, traveling thousands of miles from its breeding grounds in Alaska to spend the winter in Hawaii? These stunning birds are known for their striking plumage, with a beautiful combination of gold, black, and white feathers. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including beaches, grasslands, and wetlands. The Pacific Golden-Plover is a true marvel of nature, with its long-distance migration and stunning appearance.

Bristle-thighed Curlew

Aptly named for the bristles on its thighs, the Bristle-thighed Curlew is a rare and fascinating migratory bird that visits Hawaii during the winter months. This species is known for its distinctive call, which sounds like a haunting melody across the open grasslands and coastal areas. With its long, curved bill and mottled brown plumage, the Bristle-thighed Curlew is a unique sight to behold. These birds face numerous challenges during their migration, including loss of habitat and climate change, making their presence in Hawaii all the more special.

Ruddy Turnstone

Meet the Ruddy Turnstone, a small but charismatic migratory bird that can be found in Hawaii during the winter season. These birds are known for their vibrant plumage, with a mix of reddish-brown, black, and white feathers. As their name suggests, Ruddy Turnstones have a habit of flipping over stones and shells in search of food, using their strong bills to pry open hidden treasures. They are often spotted along the shoreline, where they scurry and probe the sand for insects and small crustaceans. Keep an eye out for these delightful little birds during your visit to Hawaii!

Sooty Tern

Imagine a bird that spends most of its life at sea, only returning to land to breed. That’s the extraordinary life of the Sooty Tern. These birds can be found in Hawaii during the summer months, nesting on remote islands and atolls. With their sleek black plumage and long, pointed wings, Sooty Terns are built for life on the ocean. They are skilled flyers, capable of traveling vast distances in search of food. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of these elegant birds as they soar above the waves, their distinct calls echoing in the air.

Red-necked Phalarope

The Red-necked Phalarope is a small migratory bird that journeys all the way from the Arctic to spend the winter in Hawaii. These birds are known for their unique feeding behavior, spinning in circles on the water’s surface to create a whirlpool effect. This mesmerizing display helps them stir up small aquatic insects and invertebrates, which they then catch with their slender bills. With their delicate features and striking red necks, Red-necked Phalaropes are a sight to behold. Keep an eye out for these graceful birds during your time in Hawaii’s coastal areas.


Endangered Birds of Hawaii

Hawaiian Crow

The Hawaiian Crow, also known as the ‘Alalā, is a critically endangered bird endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. With its glossy black feathers and strong beak, the Hawaiian Crow is a symbol of intelligence and resourcefulness. Unfortunately, its population has drastically declined due to habitat loss, disease, and predation.

Here are some key facts about the Hawaiian Crow:

  • Habitat: The Hawaiian Crow is primarily found in the montane rainforests of the Big Island of Hawaii. It prefers dense, native forests with tall trees for nesting and foraging.
  • Diet: The diet of the Hawaiian Crow consists mainly of fruits, seeds, insects, and small vertebrates. It is known to use tools, such as sticks, to extract food from tree bark.
  • Conservation Efforts: Various organizations and conservationists are working tirelessly to save the Hawaiian Crow from extinction. Captive breeding programs, habitat restoration, and predator control are some of the initiatives being undertaken.
  • Unique Calls: The Hawaiian Crow has a distinct vocalization, characterized by a variety of caws, clicks, and whistles. These calls serve as a means of communication within the flock and for territorial defense.

Hawaiian Hawk

The Hawaiian Hawk, or ‘Io, is a majestic raptor found only in Hawaii. It is considered an endangered species due to habitat loss, predation, and human disturbance. The Hawaiian Hawk plays a significant role in the cultural and spiritual beliefs of the Hawaiian people.

Here are some interesting facts about the Hawaiian Hawk:

  • Appearance: The Hawaiian Hawk has a dark brown plumage with broad wings and a long tail. It has a distinctive piercing call that echoes through the forests.
  • Hunting Behavior: The Hawaiian Hawk is an opportunistic predator, feeding on a variety of prey including small birds, rodents, and insects. It is known for its stealthy hunting techniques, soaring high above its prey before swooping down for the kill.
  • Conservation Efforts: To protect the Hawaiian Hawk, conservationists are working to preserve its habitat and control invasive species that threaten its survival. Public awareness campaigns and educational programs are also being implemented to promote the importance of conserving this iconic bird.
  • Cultural Significance: The Hawaiian Hawk is considered an ‘aumakua, or ancestral spirit, in Hawaiian culture. It is believed to be a guardian and protector of the land, symbolizing strength and wisdom.

Hawaiian Goose (Nene)

The Hawaiian Goose, or Nene, is the state bird of Hawaii and one of the rarest geese in the world. It is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and is classified as an endangered species. The Nene is highly adapted to the volcanic landscape of Hawaii and has a unique evolutionary history.

Here are some noteworthy facts about the Hawaiian Goose:

  • Appearance: The Nene is a medium-sized goose with a distinctively long neck and dark gray feathers. Its bill and feet are black, and it has a white patch on its cheeks. During the breeding season, the male Nene displays a striking black neck ring.
  • Habitat: The Nene primarily inhabits the grasslands, shrublands, and lava fields of Hawaii’s high elevation areas. It can also be found near coastal areas during the non-breeding season.
  • Conservation Success: Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, the population of the Nene has shown a remarkable recovery. Captive breeding programs, habitat protection, and predator control have played a crucial role in saving this iconic bird from extinction.
  • Flight Adaptations: The Nene is a strong flyer, capable of long-distance flights between islands. It has powerful wings and can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. However, it prefers to forage on the ground, feeding on grasses, leaves, and berries.

Hawaiian Petrel

The Hawaiian Petrel, or ‘Ua’u, is a seabird that breeds exclusively in the Hawaiian Islands. It is listed as an species due to threats like light pollution, habitat loss, and predation. The Hawaiian Petrel is known for its extraordinary long-distance migrations and its haunting calls.

Here are some fascinating facts about the Hawaiian Petrel:

  • Appearance: The Hawaiian Petrel has a dark gray-brown plumage with a white underbelly. It has a slender body, long wings, and a distinctive hooked bill. Its call is often described as a mournful, eerie wailing sound.
  • Breeding Behavior: The Hawaiian Petrel nests in burrows on remote islands, often in lava rock crevices or burrows dug by other seabirds. It lays a single egg, which both parents take turns incubating. The chick remains in the burrow for several months before fledging.
  • Migration: The Hawaiian Petrel undertakes remarkable migration journeys, traveling thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean. It spends the non-breeding season in the open ocean, foraging for fish, squid, and crustaceans.
  • Conservation Challenges: Light pollution poses a significant threat to the Hawaiian Petrel, as it can cause disorientation and collisions with structures. Efforts to reduce light pollution and protect nesting sites are critical for the survival of this unique seabird.

Hawaiian Duck

The Hawaiian Duck, or Koloa, is a species of dabbling duck found only in Hawaii. It is classified as an endangered species due to habitat degradation, predation, and hybridization with introduced Mallards. The Hawaiian Duck is an important symbol of the islands’ biodiversity and cultural heritage.

Here are some notable facts about the Hawaiian Duck:

  • Appearance: The Hawaiian Duck is a small to medium-sized duck with a mottled brown plumage. It has a distinctive blue speculum (wing patch) and a yellow-green bill. The male and female ducks have similar appearances.
  • Habitat: The Hawaiian Duck can be found in a variety of wetland habitats, including freshwater ponds, marshes, and taro fields. It feeds by dabbling in shallow water, grazing on aquatic plants, insects, and small invertebrates.
  • Conservation Efforts: Conservationists are working to protect the Hawaiian Duck by restoring and creating suitable wetland habitats. Hybridization with Mallards is a significant concern, and efforts to manage and control Mallard populations are underway.
  • Cultural Significance: The Hawaiian Duck is deeply intertwined with Hawaiian mythology and folklore. It is believed to be a guardian spirit and is associated with fertility, abundance, and protection.

By understanding the unique characteristics and conservation challenges of these endangered birds, we can appreciate the importance of preserving Hawaii’s rich avian diversity for future generations. Through collaborative efforts and public awareness, we can make a difference in safeguarding these precious species and their habitats.


Introduced Birds of Hawaii

Japanese White-eye

The Japanese White-eye, also known as the Mejiro, is a small songbird that is native to East Asia. It was introduced to Hawaii in the early 1900s and has since become one of the most on the islands. With its bright green plumage and distinctive white eye-ring, the Japanese White-eye is a beautiful addition to the Hawaiian bird population.

Some interesting facts about the Japanese White-eye include:
– They are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, from urban areas to forests.
– Their diet consists mainly of nectar, fruit, and insects.
– Japanese White-eyes are known for their beautiful and melodious song, which can often be heard in the early morning hours.
– They are social birds and are often seen in small flocks, foraging together and communicating with a range of vocalizations.

Red-crested Cardinal

The Red-crested Cardinal is a striking bird with its vibrant red plumage, black face mask, and distinctive red crest on its head. Originally from South America, it was introduced to Hawaii in the mid-20th century and has since established a population on the islands.

Here are some interesting facts about the Red-crested Cardinal:
– They are primarily seed eaters but also feed on insects and fruits.
– Red-crested Cardinals are known for their loud and melodious song, which can often be heard throughout the day.
– They are territorial birds and defend their feeding and nesting areas vigorously.
– The male and female Red-crested Cardinals have similar plumage, with the male having a slightly larger crest.

Java Sparrow

The Java Sparrow, also known as the Java Finch or Rice Bird, is a small, social bird native to Java, Indonesia. It was introduced to Hawaii in the late 19th century and has since become established in the islands.

Here are some interesting facts about the Java Sparrow:
– They are seed eaters and are often found foraging on the ground or in trees.
– Java Sparrows are known for their distinctive call, which is a series of short, musical notes.
– They are highly social birds and are often seen in flocks, especially during the breeding season.
– Male and female Java Sparrows have similar plumage, with the male having a slightly larger bill.

Common Myna

The Common Myna, also known as the Indian Myna, is a medium-sized bird native to Asia. It was introduced to Hawaii in the early 20th century as a means of controlling insect pests. However, it has since become a nuisance due to its aggressive behavior and impact on native bird populations.

Here are some interesting facts about the Common Myna:
– They have a distinctive appearance, with a dark brown body, yellow bill, and bright yellow eye patch.
– Common Mynas are omnivorous and feed on a wide range of food, including insects, fruit, and scraps of human food.
– They are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, from urban areas to agricultural fields.
– Common Mynas are known for their loud and varied vocalizations, which include whistles, squawks, and mimicry of other bird species.

Yellow-fronted Canary

The Yellow-fronted Canary, also known as the Saffron Finch, is a small songbird native to South America. It was introduced to Hawaii in the mid-20th century and has since established a population on the islands.

Here are some interesting facts about the Yellow-fronted Canary:
– They are primarily seed eaters and are often found foraging on the ground or in trees.
– Yellow-fronted Canaries are known for their beautiful and melodious song, which can often be heard in the early morning hours.
– They have a bright yellow plumage, with a distinctive black face mask and yellow forehead.
– Male and female Yellow-fronted Canaries have similar plumage, with the male having brighter colors.


Seabirds of Hawaii

Hawaii is not only known for its stunning beaches and lush landscapes but also for its diverse range of seabirds. These fascinating creatures have adapted to life on the open ocean and play a vital role in the island’s ecosystem. Let’s take a closer look at some of the remarkable seabirds that call Hawaii home.

Laysan Albatross

The Laysan Albatross, also known as the ‘Mōlī’ in Hawaiian, is a magnificent seabird with a wingspan that can reach up to 7 feet. These birds spend most of their lives at sea, only returning to land to breed and raise their young. Laysan Albatrosses are known for their intricate courtship rituals, which involve dancing, bill-clapping, and sky-pointing displays. They nest on remote islands in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and are a true spectacle to behold.

Black-footed Albatross

The Black-footed Albatross, or ‘Kā’upu’ in Hawaiian, is another remarkable seabird that graces the skies of Hawaii. These birds are known for their dark plumage and bright white underbellies, which create a striking contrast. Black-footed Albatrosses are skilled flyers and can travel thousands of miles in search of food. They are often spotted off the coast of Hawaii, gracefully gliding above the waves. Unfortunately, these beautiful birds face threats from pollution and fishing activities, making conservation efforts crucial for their survival.

Wedge-tailed Shearwater

The Wedge-tailed Shearwater, or ‘Ua’u kani’ in Hawaiian, is a seabird that is well-adapted for life on both land and sea. These birds have a unique call that sounds like a haunting wail, earning them the nickname “The Wailing Bird.” Wedge-tailed Shearwaters are excellent divers and can plunge into the water to catch fish and squid. They also have an impressive ability to navigate, using the stars and magnetic fields to find their way during long migrations.

Brown Booby

The Brown Booby, or ‘ʻĀ or ‘Ā in Hawaiian, is a seabird that is known for its striking appearance. These birds have a brown body, a blue beak, and bright yellow feet. Brown Boobies are skilled fishermen and can dive from great heights into the ocean to catch their prey. They are often seen flying in groups, gracefully soaring above the waves. Brown Boobies can be found nesting on remote islands, creating large colonies where they raise their young.

Great Frigatebird

The Great Frigatebird, or ‘ʻIwa in Hawaiian, is a seabird that is truly remarkable. These birds have a wingspan of up to 8 feet, making them one of the largest seabirds in the world. Great Frigatebirds are known for their impressive aerial acrobatics and their ability to stay aloft for days without landing. They have a unique feeding strategy, often stealing food from other seabirds in mid-air. The males of this species have a distinctive red throat pouch that they inflate during courtship displays.


Forest Birds of Hawaii

Hawaiian Honeycreeper

The Hawaiian Honeycreeper is a group of small, brightly colored birds that are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. These unique birds are known for their curved bills and their ability to extract nectar from flowers. They play a crucial role in pollination, as they transfer pollen from one flower to another while feeding on nectar.

  • The Hawaiian Honeycreeper is a diverse group of birds, with over 50 different species.
  • Each species of Hawaiian Honeycreeper has its own unique appearance and behavior.
  • Some Hawaiian Honeycreepers have vibrant plumage, with colors ranging from bright red to vibrant yellow.
  • These birds are incredibly agile and can maneuver through dense forests with ease.
  • The Hawaiian Honeycreeper is known for its song, which is a melodic and complex series of notes.

‘Akepa

The ‘Akepa is a small forest bird that is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. It is known for its striking appearance, with bright orange plumage on the male and a more subdued yellow coloration on the female. The ‘Akepa primarily feeds on insects and small arthropods, which it forages for in the forest canopy.

  • The ‘Akepa is one of the rarest birds in Hawaii, with a population of less than 1,000 individuals.
  • This bird is highly territorial and will defend its feeding and breeding areas from intruders.
  • The ‘Akepa is an important indicator species for the health of the forest ecosystem, as its presence indicates a well-preserved habitat.
  • Conservation efforts are underway to protect the ‘Akepa and its habitat, including the restoration of native forests.

‘O’u

The ‘O’u is a medium-sized bird that is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. It is known for its unique song, which consists of a series of melodious notes. The ‘O’u primarily feeds on nectar, but it also supplements its diet with insects and small arthropods.

  • The ‘O’u is a highly adaptable bird and can be found in a variety of forest habitats, from lowland forests to montane forests.
  • This bird has a distinctive appearance, with a bright yellow body and black wings and tail.
  • The ‘O’u is a skilled acrobat, capable of hovering in mid-air while feeding on nectar from flowers.
  • Conservation efforts are underway to protect the ‘O’u and its habitat, as the population has declined due to habitat loss and introduced predators.

‘Akiapola’au

The ‘Akiapola’au is a unique bird that is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. It is known for its specialized bill, which has a long, curved upper mandible and a shorter, chisel-like lower mandible. This unique bill allows the ‘Akiapola’au to forage for insects in the bark of trees.

  • The ‘Akiapola’au is a highly specialized bird and is the only member of its genus.
  • This bird is primarily found in high-elevation forests, where it can be seen climbing tree trunks in search of insects.
  • The ‘Akiapola’au has a distinctive call, which is a series of sharp, high-pitched notes.
  • Conservation efforts are underway to protect the ‘Akiapola’au and its habitat, as the population has declined due to habitat loss and introduced predators.

‘Akohekohe

The ‘Akohekohe is a medium-sized bird that is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. It is known for its vibrant plumage, with a bright orange body and black wings and tail. The ‘Akohekohe primarily feeds on nectar, but it also supplements its diet with insects and small arthropods.

  • The ‘Akohekohe is one of the rarest birds in Hawaii, with a population of less than 3,000 individuals.
  • This bird is highly territorial and will defend its feeding and breeding areas from intruders.
  • The ‘Akohekohe is an important pollinator, as it transfers pollen from one flower to another while feeding on nectar.
  • Conservation efforts are underway to protect the ‘Akohekohe and its habitat, including the restoration of native forests.

In conclusion, the forest birds of Hawaii, including the Hawaiian Honeycreeper, ‘Akepa, ‘O’u, ‘Akiapola’au, and ‘Akohekohe, are unique and diverse species that play important roles in the island’s ecosystem. Their vibrant plumage, specialized bills, and melodic songs make them fascinating creatures to observe in their natural habitat. However, their populations have been threatened by habitat loss and introduced predators, making conservation efforts crucial for their survival.

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