birds of Maui

19 Unique Birds of Maui (Edition 2022)

The Hawaiian Islands are home to many unique bird species, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. The island of Maui is no exception, with several introduced and native bird species that can be found in its forests, grasslands, and coastal areas. Some of the most notable bird species found on Maui include the Hawaiian crow, the Maui parrotbill, and the endangered Nene goose.

Some of the most popular places to see birds on Maui are Haleakala National Park, the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, and the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens. Below we’ll discuss these feathered friends, their appearance, habitat, breeding and more.

List of Birds of Maui

1. Maui ParrotBill (Kiwikiu)

The Maui parrot, also known as the kiwikiu, is a critically endangered species of parrot endemic to the island of Maui.

Identification:

A member of the honeycreeper family, the Maui parrot is one of several Hawaiian forest Birds that are exceptional. Be on the look for a small parrot with an olive-green body and yellowish head and belly. Notice its parrot-like grayish bill that comes in handy when crushing stems.

The birds are found in native forests on Maui and feed on native fruits and seeds. The population of Maui parrots has declined significantly in recent years due to habitat loss and predation by non-native mammals.

2. Red-Crested Cardinal

Introduced to Hawaii in the 1900s, Red-crested cardinals are beautiful Maui birds that are common in lowland areas.

Identification:

These native birds of Maui have very distinctive features. Adults have a noticeable crest, similar to the Northern cardinals. The rest of the head is red. Upperparts are gray and white underneath. Juveniles are similar with a brownish head.

The red crested cardinal is found in woodlands as well as urban spaces. These birds feed on insects, spiders, lizards, fruits and seeds. The red crested cardinal is not considered to be threatened at this time.

3. Northern Cardinal

Are there cardinals in Maui? The Northern Cardinal is a common visitor to bird feeders in the Island of Maui.

Identification:

This ground feeding bird is one of the easiest to identify. Cardinals are easily recognizable by their bright red plumage and black face . Male cardinals are especially vibrant, while females tend to be more dull in color.

Cardinals are not only lovely to look at, but they also have a pleasant song that they often sing in the morning hours. Cardinals typically mate for life and build their nests in trees or bushes.

If you’re lucky enough to spot a northern cardinal when bird watching, you’re sure to be impressed by its beauty! They are most commonly found in wooded areas near streams and in open fields.

4. Zebra Dove

Another common bird of Maui is the Zebra dove. This particular bird was introduced to Maui and other Hawaiian islands in 1922.

Identification:

The zebra dove is a small to medium sized bird with a body length of 7.8-9 inches. It has a grayish-brown barred plumage with a long, narrow tail. The zebra dove is an omnivorous bird and feeds on seeds, fruits, insects and snails.

The zebra dove is a monogamous bird and breeds between the months of September to June. The zebra dove lays 2-3 eggs in a nest which is built in trees or bushes.

Both parents take turns in incubating the eggs for 14-16 days. The Zebra Dove is not considered to be at risk of extinction. They are also known as the barred ground doves.

5. Hawaiian Crow (Alalā)

The Hawaiian crow, or the alalā are a member of the crow family endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. The last known wild individual was seen in the 2000s, and the species is now extinct in the wild. However, there is a captive breeding program underway with the hope of one day releasing these birds back into the wild.

Identification:

Like other birds in the corvidae family, this bird on Maui island is overall black with facial hairs. It’s about 19-20 inches in length.

Related Read: List of Birds in Kauai

6. Nene Goose (Hawaiian Goose)

Nene geese or the Hawaiian geese are a species of bird that is endemic to Maui. It’s also the state bird of Hawaii.

Identification:

Because of its large body and height, these Maui birds are easy to spot and identify. They are about 16 inches in height with a body length of about 25 inches. Males birds weigh 3-6.74 lbs while females are 3-5.64 lbs in weight.

These beautiful birds have a black head, brownish-gray body with black markings. The Nene breeds on the island of Maui, and nests in lava tubes and caves. The Nene goose feeds on insects, snails, and plants.

7. Java Sparrows

Also known as the Java rice bird or Java finch, the Java sparrow is a small passerine bird. Native to the Indonesian island of Java, it was introduced to Maui in the 1960.

Identification:

The Java sparrow is a relatively small bird, measuring just over 5 inches in length. It has a black head and throat, white cheeks and red bill. The body is gray-brown, with a black tail and white undertail. The tail is long.

The Java sparrow is a seed-eater, and its diet consists mainly of rice. In urban areas, it will also eat insect larvae and other small invertebrates.

The bird typically forages in flocks, often feeding on the ground. The Java sparrow is not considered to be threatened in its native range.

8. Hawaiian Duck (Koloa Maoli)

Hawaiian ducks or the koloa maoli are species of duck that you can find in Maui. This medium size duck is smaller than the nene.

Identification:

The koloa maoli is a small duck, with a body length of about 19 inches. It has a dark mottled brown body, with a dark tail. Its feet are yellow-orange in color. The koloa maoli’s bill is olive-green. These birds of Maui are social ducks, and can often be seen in groups of 10-20 individuals.

9. Hawaiian Petrel (Ua’U)

Hawaiian petrels are seabirds that breed on the beautiful island of Maui. They are also known as the ua’u, which means “noisy petrel” in Hawaiian.

Identification:

The Hawaiian petrel is a medium-sized bird, with a dark brown body and white underparts. It has a long, pointed beak, and long wings. The Hawaiian petrel breeds in burrows on the ground, and lays one egg per year.

The chick hatches after about 55 days, and fledges after about 75 days. The Hawaiian petrel is endangered, with an estimated population of only 10,000 birds. However, conservation efforts are underway to try to save this species from extinction.

10. Hawaii Stilt (Kukuluaeʻo)

The Hawaii stilt, also called the ae’o in Hawaiian, is a wading bird endemic to Maui Island. It is very conspicuous with distinctive features that make it easily identifiable.

Identification:

The bird is black with a white breast and has long red legs. This bird in Maui also has a long bill that comes in handy when foraging for crustaceans, small fish and insects. The stilt is found in fresh and saltwater habitats on all of the main islands except for Kaho’olawe.

During their breeding season, the female lays two to four eggs which are incubated for about three weeks before hatching.

The stilt is also considered to be threatened because its numbers have declined due to habitat loss and degradation.

11. House Finch

From backyards to parks to the high mountains, house finches are spread throughout Maui. Can you identify this bird?

Identification:

This sociable bird comes in two different plumage to help identify the sexes. Male birds are particularly striking, with their bright red plumage. Its wings and belly are a streaked brown.

In contrast, the female house finch is brown overall with heavy streaks. These birds are relatively easy to care for and make great pets. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering a house finch as a pet.

First, these birds can be noisy. They are known for their cheerful singing, but it can be loud and constant. If you’re looking for a quiet pet, a house finch is probably not the right choice.

Second, these birds are social creatures and do best when kept in pairs or small groups. If you’re only looking for one pet bird, you might want to consider another species that does better when kept alone.

Finally, house finches can be messy. They tend to bathe often and splash water around their cage.

12. Cattle Egret

How did cattle egrets get to Hawaii? In the 1900’s, cattle egrets were introduced to Hawaii to help curb the flies population. There hopes these wild birds would help decrease flies numbers, protecting cattle in the island.

Identification:

The bird is mostly white with some orange on its wings and head. The cattle egret gets its name from the fact that it often follows cattle around, eating the insects that they disturb. It has a short red-yellow bill and yellow feet.

This white bird of Maui is an adaptable bird and can be found in a variety of habitats, from open fields to marshes to even urban areas.

13. Spotted Dove

Are spotted doves native to Hawaii? Nope, they are an introduced species. First introduced to Maui in the 1800s this medium sized bird is also known as the lace-necked dove or mountain dove.

Identification:

These birds are known for their distinctive plumage, which is marked with black and white spots on their nape. The rest of the body is a combo of brown and pink. Although they are not typically considered to be good flyers, spotted doves are excellent climbers and can often be seen perching in trees.

These birds typically eat seeds. Spotted doves are not particularly aggressive birds, but they will defend their territory if necessary.

These birds mate for life and usually lay two eggs at a time. The female incubates the eggs for about two weeks before they hatch.

14. Gray Francolin

Gray francolin is a species of bird in the pheasant family. It is a heavily built bird with a round body and short legs.

Identification:

The male bird is 11-13.4 inches while the female is slightly smaller around 10 inches. It has a rufous-orangish face, brown-gray barred back, and pale-black barred underparts. The gray francolin prefers dry areas where it can forage for seeds It nests on the ground in dense vegetation.

The gray francolin is hunted for food and sport in many parts of its range. It is also kept as a pet bird in some countries.

15. Common Myna

Another common bird of Maui is the Common Myna. Brought to the island in the mid 1800’s, this plain-looking bird.

Identification:

Like most birds in Maui, common mynas were brought to the island for a reason; to fight army worms. The common myna is a blackbird with a yellow beak and feet.

Myna birds are known for their loud calls which include squeals, whistles and chirps. Today in Maui, these birds have multiplied and are the most common birds in this island. 

Also read: Here are different video cameras for bird watching

16. Black-Crowned Night-Heron (Auku’u)

With its stunning red eyes, the black-crowned night-heron is nocturnal predator that hunts for its prey in the dark. These birds are found in wooded areas near water, and they use their long, sharp beaks to stab their prey.

Identification:

Also known as auku’u, this bird measures 22-26 inches in length. Black-crowned night herons have black backs and crowns, light-gray sides and white underneath. Immature birds are brown overall with whitish spots on their wings. Adults boast of a wingspan of up to 46.5 inches.

17. Red Junglefowl

Do you know any tropical paradise birds on this big island? Red jungle fowls are one of the first species to be introduced to Maui residents who lived on the island over 4000 years ago.

Identification:

The red junglefowl or the Gallus gallus is the wild ancestor of the domestic chicken. These birds get their name from their habitat: dense forests with lots of undergrowth, or “jungle.”

Red junglefowl are smaller than chickens, with males reaching a maximum weight of about 4 pounds. Females are about half that size. These birds are reddish-brown, with males having brighter plumage and longer tails than females.

These animals play an important role in their ecosystems as both predators and prey. Red junglefowl help control populations of insects, rodents, and reptiles. In turn, they are food for many predators.

18. Great Frigatebird (Iwa)

The Great frigate bird is a magnificent creature. With its long wings and forked tail, it is an excellent flier. It can often be seen soaring high in the sky, or gliding gracefully over the water.

Identification:

These birds are overall black with a long, sharp bill. The Great frigate bird is known for its striking red throat pouch.

This pouch can inflate to twice the size of the bird’s head! When a male is trying to attract a mate, he will puff out his throat pouch and make a loud noise.

The Great frigate bird is a skilled hunter. It preys on fish, squid, and even small birds. Once it has spotted its prey, it will swoop down and snatch it up in its talons.

19. Red-necked pheasant

Red-necked pheasants are game birds in the family Phasianidae. It is also known as the common pheasant.

Identification:

It is native to Asia and was introduced to Maui in the 1860s. The red-necked pheasant is a sexually dimorphic species, with the male being much larger than the female. The male has a long tail and glossy colorful plumage, while the female is smaller with brown-black plumage.

The red-necked pheasant is found in open woodlands, farmland and wetlands. It feeds on insects, reptiles, amphibians, fruits and seeds. This Maui bird is an important gamebird in many parts of its range and is hunted for food and sport.

Where to Go Bird Watching Maui

Want to go birding in Maui? Here are some of our favorite spots:

  • Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge in Kihei
  • Ohai Trail
  • Kanaha Beach Park in Kahului
  • Makawao forest reserve
  • Waikamoi Nature Trail 
  • Hosmer Grove in Haleakala National Park

Sources:

https://www.nps.gov/havo/learn/nature/uau.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_frigatebird

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