Birds of Hawaii are a sight to see – from the commonly seen House Finch to the saffron finches; the list is never-ending and full of surprises and treats.
Despite its exquisite fauna, the birds of Hawaii are endangered, so pay a visit to see these marvelous creatures with your own eyes while there’s still time.
Beautiful Birds in Hawaii
The Flora and fauna of Hawaii are like no other US state, and the beaches make it even more beautiful and worthy. Several birds can be generally seen in and around Hawaiian Beaches, a few of which are listed below.
1. Hawaiian Petrel
Even though the Hawaiian Petrel is mostly restricted to Mauna Loa, it can still be seen almost on all the Hawaiian islands. It is an endangered species and is being kept away from mongooses and feral cats, who pose a significant threat to their existence. One of the most common birds of Hawaii, found in the Hawaiian islands, is very close to the seagull, and it is easy for someone to get confused between the two.
2. Red-Whiskered Bulbul
There’s no way that a bird with such bold colors will not catch your eye. Although it is generally an inhabitant of tropical Asia, one can find this bright little bird in the Oahu islands of Hawaii.
The tinge of bright red feathers makes this bird one of the most gorgeous birds of Hawaii, among the other birds of Hawaii.
3. Laysan Albatross
One of the most common birds in Hawaii. These creatures are enormous when compared to the other common birds of Hawaii. They’re sea birds and most of their population belongs to the Hawaiian islands. They can even walk on the land, but sometimes landing on the shore means several somersaults for them.
Laysan Albatross is known to have an impressive life span of 40 years on average. They’re found mostly in the Oahu and the north-western Hawaiian Islands.
Also known as the Hawaiian goose, this bird is the state bird of Hawaii. These geese are one of the most commonly found birds among the other birds of Hawaii. These are found widely on the islands of Oahu, Kauai, Maui (Haleakala National Park), Molokai, and the Big Island and are non-aquatic and non-migratory species of the Hawaiian Islands.
You must be living under a rock if you do not spot a Hawaiian Nene while away on a Hawaii trip. Also, did we tell you the Nene Goslings are the cutest?
5. Red-Footed Booby
As the name goes, you must have figured out by now that this is because of the bird’s bright red feet. Among the several types of boobies that are found in the Hawaiian islands, the Red-footed booby is one of the easy-to-see birds of the Hawaiian Islands.
Besides this, the blue-footed booby, brown booby (because of its brown body), and masked booby are also widely found in the Hawaiian islands.
6. Brown Noddy
The brown noddy is the oddly satisfying dark chocolate-colored bird with an off-white crown, which can be seen on the islands of Hawaii.
This is one of the colonial tropical birds of Hawaii, and its nesting grounds are seen mainly on the trunks of shrubs or on rocks, unlike other lowland habitats. These greyish-brown birds of Hawaii thrive on small fishes and often snoop down swiftly amidst flying to feed themselves.
7. Hawaiian Hawk
The only endemic hawk species found on The Big Island is considered a good omen or a creature in the form of their ancestors by the Hawaiian people. In the Big Island, killing or even harming one such native bird is strictly prohibited.
8. Short-Eared Hawaiian Owl
The short-eared owl is a Hawaiian owl known as the ‘pueo‘ in Hawaiian culture is an endemic Hawaiian bird and is considered a soul to rescue someone lost or who’s in danger.
Although killing such birds is strictly prohibited, these Hawaiian birds are highly endangered.
9. The White Tern
A white, small sea bird, commonly known as the fairy tern, is found across all the oceans of the world but is native to Hawaiian islands. Also known as the white noddy in everyday English, the white tern has the cutest, tiny, snowman-like chicks (baby birds).
10. Red-Crested Cardinal
Also known as the Argentine Cardinals, the red-crested cardinals are another must-see bird when you visit Hawaii. Not only are these native birds of Hawaii, but they’re also considered a good sign by the locals. Red-crested cardinal goes true by its name, and its red crests are considered a symbol of evoking emotions. Some also consider the red-crested cardinal a messenger of God.
It is a finch-billed species of the Hawaiian honeycreeper and is highly endangered. The yellow-golden-necked bird is now endangered because of the destruction of its natural habitat, i.e. the mamane trees.
These birds of Hawaii are seen on the islands where there are abundant mamane trees, and they live in high-elevation forests or wet forests. The Palila(s) are attractive birds of Hawaii and thus are taken great care of as they’re in critical danger of extinction.
12. Nihoa Flinch
According to the IUCN, the Nihoa Finch is another critically endangered bird species in Hawaii. These yellow-colored birds are not found on all the islands but only on specific northwestern islands, such as the Nihoa islands. Like several other small birds, these birds are endangered because of their small proportion and restriction to one island and other climatic disasters.
13. Laysan Duck
The Laysan Duck has always been rare and has a record of having a population as low as 20 birds. As their name says, these ducks are found on the Laysan Island of Hawaii and are highly sensitive to environmental changes.
Also, their restriction to a specific island is considered one of the causes of the Laysan ducks’ being critically endangered. However, on the bright side, the number of Laysan ducks is increasing.
14. Newell’s Shearwater
Even though its classification is confusing, Newell’s shearwater or the Hawaiian shearwater, has been considered a critically endangered species by the IUCN.
The causes of the declination of this endemic seabird of Hawaii are believed to be predators like feral cats and invasive species of animals and insects, which eventually result in the degradation of their natural habitat.
15. Hawaiian Duck
The only endemic species of duck on the Hawaiian island is now endangered, and even the number of pure Hawaiian ducks has been reduced to some 2200 birds. Apart from that, there are hybrid forms of this duck, as they prefer to interbreed with wild ducks (feral mallards). Predators often attack the birds’ nest (s), and thus these birds of Hawaii spend the breeding season guarding their well-concealed nests against the predators like mongooses.
16. Hawaiian Stilt
This shorebird of Hawaii with long, slender legs are critically endangered, and the main reason which threatens their existence is the introduction of new species of plants and animals. These often lead to problems in their habitat, and they don’t cope well with these changes. The number of Hawaiian slits is around 1700, according to the latest estimate.
17. Hawaiian Crow
Rounded wings, a thicker neck, and an extremely bushy appearance distinguish this bird from the other birds of Hawaii. This bird is currently regarded as extinct in the wild, and the reasons behind such extinction are loss of habitat and a growing number of predators like feral cats, etc. Although the restoration process is in full swing, there are only 110 Hawaiian crows left in the world, which are in captivity.
18. Hawaiian Gallinule
Also known as the Hawaiian Moorhen, the Hawaiian Gallinule is a bird of Hawaii which is highly endangered. Even though the introduction of several animals, like rats and other predators, posed a great danger to the existence of the Hawaiian Gallinule, especially for their chicks, the destruction and fragmentation of wetlands are another reason behind the endangered status of this Hawaiian bird.
19. Pacific golden plover
The Pacific golden plover is a migratory shorebird widely seen across the Pacific and its adjacent areas. The bold breeding plumage varies in color according to their sexes, whereas for the non-breeding ones, it’s the same for both sexes. These birds breed during the Siberian Summers and can be found in Hawaii, mostly in the off-breeding season. Although they’re one of Hawaii’s widely found backyard birds, changing climatic conditions seriously threaten their existence.
20. Zebra Dove
Zebra Dove is one of the most widely seen birds in Hawaii. If you’re on a Hawaii trip, you’ll see a zebra dove for sure – be it in the open, the wet lowlands, or the backyard of a posh resort on the Big Island. These tiny birds, with long tails, are found primarily on Oahu, Kauai (koke’e state park), and Big Island (Hawaii volcanoes national park) but aren’t restricted to just one island. A native to Southeast Asia, these game birds thrive primarily on grass, weeds, and small insects and seeds of plants and are thus found in gardens and parks.
21. Rose-Ringed Parakeet
Probably one of the friendliest birds one can ever come across, the olive green Rose-ringed parakeet is rightly called a family bird or a caged bird. Half an hour of interaction daily is all you need to get a parakeet to be your friend. Although a native of the Southern Indian subcontinent, these birds of Hawaii are also seen in western North America as well as South America.
Rose-ringed parakeets make for the perfect pets, providing you with some company in outdoor seating areas and being the most welcome guests. Even though the primary difference between parakeets and long-tailed parrots is the tail, the olive green feathers, and the overall body size, these two don’t make great friends with each other.
22. Northern Cardinal
Imagine sitting in your backyard in Hawaii, and a beautiful red bird visits you – sounds like a daydream, doesn’t it? Well, only if that means you’re dreaming with your eyes open. The Northern Cardinal is a bright red-crested cardinal seen in almost all the states of the US, including Hawaii as well.
Their breeding period is as long as March to September of the same year. The birds lay eggs just before March, and the babies stay in the nests for 9-11 days! Surprising, isn’t it? Cardinals are considered a sign of good luck by the Hawaiians and the locals, especially because of the bright red, which means that the people we lose always stay in our hearts merrily. The red is a shade paler for females, changing to a rusty brown.
23. Japanese White-Eye
One of the widely known passerine birds of the white-eye family, the Japanese white-eye, is a treat to the eyes. As the name goes, these passerine birds have a white lining around their eyes. This suave-looking bird is as tiny as 10cm in length, and they build their nests not much high above ground level and are even seen on other islands, even though initially these birds were introduced to the island of Oahu in 1992.
These birds of Hawaii are also seen in the city parks in and around Hawaii and are also known as ‘mejiro’, which translates to ‘white eye‘ in Japanese.
24. Red-Whiskered Bulbul
Red Whiskered bulbul is another friendly bird after parakeets, which can be seen as the backyard bird of Hawaii. These birds are generally found in pairs and have the sweetest voice any bird can ever possess. This passerine bird is native to Asia, and 9 endemic subspecies have been recognized so far. Such birds are primarily found in Southeast Asia and thrive mainly on seeds and fruits.
These non-migratory birds have a red tinge near their ears and a bright red patch near their tail and are 7 inches long at the most. The baby bulbuls, however, have a paler greyish crown in comparison.
25. White-Rumped Shama
White-rumped shama is another bird native to South East Asia that was later introduced to Hawaii’s islands.
A thrush-like bird, this passerine bird has a bright, exotic-looking shade of yellow while its head is black. The females, however, are way paler than the males, shorter, smaller, and have pink feet. The nests of this native South Asian bird lie mainly in the hollows of trees, and the male stands guarding the nest while the females look at the nest building. The fascinating thing about this bird, after its chestnut-like colour is its voice. The voice of the shama thrush is as sweet as honey but can become highly shrill when the bird senses danger. These birds can also often be seen in the backyard of a Hawaiian house.
26. Java Sparrow
Also widely known as the Java Finch, the Java sparrows are small, adorable, and charming cage birds. Like any other sparrow, the Java sparrows are quiet, make perfect pets, and have been this way for ages.
A native of Indonesia, more precisely of Java and Bali, these sparrows are also known as paddy sparrows, given their frequency being in the paddy fields and smooth appearance. Highly energetic yet gentle, mellifluous voice yet quiet, doesn’t it sound like the ideal pet?
Keep a birdbath in your backyard; Java sparrows will come by once in a while when the weather conditions become too much to cope with. Even due to increasing commercial demand and its popularity as a caged bird, these birds of Hawaii are now a few; they are seen in Hawaiian backyards, all the same.
27. Common Waxbills
Another passerine bird of Hawaii, the common waxbill, is fat, adorable, a tiny bird with a dark vent, a reddish patch around its eyes, and greyish stubble-like feathers. Like its red patch, the red beak of the waxbills is unmissable, despite its small size. This native African bird also makes for great pets and thrives mostly on seeds, roots, and small insects such as termites and any other insect, which is a rich source of protein. Common waxbills are natives of Northern Africa and are seen on rocky hillsides adjacent to the sea in Hawaii.
28. Spotted Dove
Found almost in all of Asia, the spotted dove native of Asia is seen in backyards, gardens, parks, and even fields. Unlike its name, a spotted dove doesn’t resemble a dove. Instead, it resembles a pigeon with a long tail and black and white patches right from its head to the sides of its neck. These doves, however, have a more bushy appearance in Malaysia and are often called ‘spotted turtle-dove’ and even ‘pearl-necked dove’. These birds of Hawaii have introduced to the islands not long ago and now have spread all across Hawaii.
29. House Finch
As the name suggests, these birds of Hawaii make for excellent pets and are highly energetic, just like any other finch. The male house finches are pale yellow and red, streaked from the head and all across, while the females are paler, with no evident tinge of red, orange, or even straw yellow. Female house finches are greyish brown and can be streaked, but not necessarily.
Although the house finches are easy to take care of and pet, these birds are highly social and thus cannot be kept alone. Since these finches are prone to wandering in flocks, they cannot be kept alone when kept in cages.
Even though you can spot sharp-tailed sandpipers, red-tailed tropicbird, and yellow-fronted canary, besides several other rare Hawaii birds, only a few birds are indeed left in Hawaii. In fact, you ought to consider yourself a lucky bird-watcher if you see many birds while on a Hawaii trip.
The reason behind such extinction is several reasons combined, starting right from avian malaria to habitat destruction, deforestation, and an increase in mosquito-borne diseases. These reasons combined have resulted in the extinction of several species of birds. Even though scientists are trying their best to restore the population of the endangered species, many species have gone extinct, and Hawaii isn’t as rich in flora and fauna as it used to be.
So, is Hawaii really worth a visit?
Absolutely! Hawaii is a place that deserves a place on your bucket list, no matter what you like. With its good food and beautiful climatic conditions, Hawaii is a place worth every penny you spend on it.
The best part of Hawaii that goes without saying is the wide variety of birds of Hawaii and the local beliefs and myths attached to it. While Laysan Albatross means a hindrance, cardinals, on the other hand, are believed to be a symbol of good luck or spiritual evoking.
Long story short, if not for anything else, visit Hawaii to get a glimpse of several beautiful birds, be it in your own backyard who feed from your hands or a flock of birds that soar higher and higher, flying across the Pacific Ocean.
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