12 Red Headed Birds of Hawaii (2023 Edition)

There are many different types of birds in Hawaii, but one type that stands out is the type of bird with red head.

Some of these red headed birds are native to the island and are a popular sight for tourists while others have been introduced to the island. Red birds of Hawaii are thought to be a sign of good luck, and the birds are often seen as a symbol of paradise.

In the article below we’ll look at some unique birds such as the red crested cardinal to endemic birds like the apapane.

Red Headed Birds of Hawaii

1. Red Crested Cardinal

Hawaiian birds with red heads
Red Crested Cardinal – Paroaria coronata

Also known as the Brazilian cardinal, the red crested cardinals is one type of cardinals in Hawaii. Here are features to help you identify it.


The adult red crested cardinals are similar in plumage. They spot a bright red head, gray back with black wing tips, and white underneath. They also have an unmistakable red crest that gives them their name.

On the other hand, juveniles are a more subdued color with a brownish-orange head. These birds are relatively small, measuring only about 9 inches in length.

Interesting facts:

The red crested cardinal is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction. However, habitat loss and fragmentation due to deforestation could pose a threat to this species in the future.

This Hawaiian cardinal is most commonly found in lowland rainforests, where it feeds on insects and fruit. You’ll always find them in huge flocks during the non-breeding season. During breeding season, the female red crested cardinal lays up to six eggs.

2. Scarlet Honeycreeper (I’iwi)

red birds
Scarlet Honeycreeper – Drepanis coccinea

Source: beforeitgetsdark

Another group of red head Hawaiian birds are the scarlet honeycreepers or i’iwi. Native to the islands, this small bird is closely related to rose finches and here is how to identify it.


The i’iwi is a member of the Hawaiian honeycreepers. This bird family is famous for its brilliant colors that make them easy to spot.

Scarlet honeycreepers feature a brilliant red body, from head to legs, except for the wings which are black with a white patch. Juveniles are duller with a brownish head.

Their curved bills are another noteworthy feature.

Interesting facts:

Scarlet honeycreepers are important pollinators of native plants. They feed on nectar, pollen, and insects, which they collect from flowers using their long curved beaks.

These birds play an important role in the ecology of the Hawaiian Islands and are cherished by many residents and visitors alike.

Their breeding season starts from January through June, when the female lays up to three bluish eggs that take about two weeks to hatch.

3. Apapane

Birds of Hawaii
Apapane – Himatione sanguinea

Source: sunilsandiego

Another honeycreeper that is endemic to the islands of Hawaii is the Apapane. This blood-red bird is easily noticeable due to its striking plumage.


Mostly found in the islands of Maui, Oahu, Hawaii, and Kauai, this red headed bird is about 5 inches, the size of a house finch. Adults are similar.

They are both blood-red on their head, back, and upper breast. Their undertail is white while their wings and tail are black. Note the sharp black bill.

In contrast, the juvenile is brown with dark wings. Also, check other birds of the Oahu Island.

Interesting facts:

The word “apapane” means “red bird” in Hawaiian. The Apapane is the most common of all the Hawaiian honeycreepers, and can be found on all of the main islands. It is also a popular bird with tourists, as they are often seen flying around the beaches and resorts.

This bird is very vocal and is known for its repeated trills, squeaking and whistles. Like other honeycreepers, it mostly feeds on nectar. Breeding season starts in October to June. Female do most of the work.

4. Northern Cardinals

Northern cardinals
Northern Cardinals – Cardinalis cardinalis

Are there northern cardinals in Hawaii? In 1929, these red birds were introduced in Hawaii and over the years have multiplied to great numbers.


These small birds with red heads have very distinctive features. Male northern cardinals are brilliant red all over with a black mask, while females are a duller reddish brown and gray. They are about 8-9 inches in size with a wingspan of up to 12 inches.

Both sexes have a noticeable crest and a long tail.

Interesting facts:

Northern cardinals are year-round residents of woods and thickets in Hawaii. They are common visitors to backyards and bird feeders. Cardinals are not shy and will readily come close to people.

These Hawaiian red birds mate for life and both parents help care for the young. The female cardinal builds a cup-shaped nest of twigs, bark strips, and leaves, usually in a shrub or tree.

These beautiful birds are relatively easy to attract to your yard and make excellent subjects for photographers of all levels.

Also read: Check other birds in the Island of Kauai

5. Yellow-billed Cardinal

Paroaria capitata
Yellow-billed cardinal – Paroaria capitata

The yellow-billed cardinal is a member of the tanager family. It is native to Brazil and Argentina and was introduced to Hawaii in the 1960’s.


These birds are very small, but they have a big personality. Adults spot a bright red head with a conspicuous yellow bill, while the immature birds are brown above and white below. Also adults have a black back, though the female is more brownish, and are white below.

Note their stunning red eyes. Also, unlike the northern cardinal above, they do not have crests.

Interesting facts:

The yellow-billed cardinal is a very social bird and can often be seen in flocks. These birds are not afraid to approach humans and will often take food from them. The yellow-billed cardinal is a protected species and it is illegal to kill them.

Related Read: Check black birds with red heads

6. House Finch

 House Finch
House Finch – Haemorhous mexicanus

Are there house finches in Hawaii? Introduced to the island in the 1800’s, the house finch is common in Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii.


The house finch is a small, sparrow-like bird with a short tail and pointed wings. The male has a reddish head, breast and back, with brown streaked belly, wings, and undertail. The female is usually a heavy streaked brown. Young birds share plumage with the female.

These birds are found in open woodlands, gardens and urban areas across North America.

Interesting facts:

House finches are seed eaters, but will also take insects, berries and nectar. They often visit backyard bird feeders. The males sing a cheerful song consisting of trills and warbles.

House finches mate for life and build cup-shaped nests out of twigs, leaves and grasses. Both parents help to raise the young birds.

Breeding season starts from February lasting to August. Female Hawaiian house finch prefers a male with a redder head. Check other Maui bird here.

7. Scarlet Ibis

 Scarlet Ibis
Scarlet Ibis – Eudocimus ruber

In the tropical marshes of South America, a small bird with a long, curved beak plies the air with powerful strokes. The scarlet ibis is one of nature’s most impressive flyers, but it’s also one of the planet’s most endangered animals.

In Hawaii, this bird is not found in the wild but in zoos. These features will help you spot it.


This large red headed bird Hawaii is known for its brilliant red plumage and black tipped wings. It also features a long curved bill and red feet. Juveniles have a brown head. Notice their long, s-shaped neck.

Interesting facts:

The striking scarlet plumage for which this bird is named is actually a brilliant red hue that comes from its diet. Scarlet ibises feed on crustaceans and other invertebrates that contain a red pigment called carotenoids.

These brilliantly colored birds mate for life and build their nests high in the treetops. Unfortunately, their habitat is being destroyed at an alarming rate by human activity. And as their habitat disappears, so does the scarlet ibis.

8. Red Avadavat

 Red Avadavat
Red Avadavat – Amandava amandava

The red avadavat is a small, sparrow-like bird that was introduced to Hawaii in the early 1900s. Over the decades, it has multiplied in numbers and its bright red plumage makes it a striking addition to any backyard.


These lively little birds are social creatures that enjoy being around other birds and people. Like the northern cardinals, the sexes have different plumage.

They are known for their cheerful songs and will often sing even when there is no one else around.

Males are a stunning red with dark brown wings and beautiful white spots. Also, their bills, eyes, and legs are also red.

On the other hand, the female red avadant is mostly gray with a brownish rump and red bill.

Other facts:

Despite their small size, red avadavats are feisty birds that are not afraid to stand up for themselves. They will often fight with other birds if they feel threatened or if their territory is invaded.

Like other finches they build nests out of grass during their breeding season that starts in May through November. The female of this redhead Hawaiian bird lays up to six eggs.

9. Redhead duck

Redhead duck – Aythya americana

There are many different types of ducks in Hawaii, but one of the most popular is the redhead duck.


These ducks are a beautiful bird, with a reddish brown head and neck and a gray-black body, and stunning yellow eyes for the males. Females are overall brown with dark eyes. They are often seen in flocks on lakes and rivers, and they are a favorite of many birdwatchers.

Other facts:

The redhead duck is a very good swimmer, and they are often seen diving for food. They eat a variety of aquatic plants and animals, including insects, crustaceans, and small fish. Redhead ducks are also known for their loud calls, which can be heard for long distances.

The redhead duck is an important part of the ecosystem, and they play a role in controlling the populations of many different types of animals.

11. Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll
Common Redpoll – Acanthis flammea

Small and a partial migrant, the common redpoll is a small red headed bird that is often seen in flocks.


Male common redpolls are reddish above and streaked brown the rest of the body. Females are also brown and streaked with a red patch on their head. Both sexes have a short yellow bill.

Other facts:

When are these birds found in Hawaii? During the winter months, common redpolls often migrate in search of food. While most birds migrate alone or in small groups, common redpolls will sometimes form large flocks of up to 100 birds. These flocks will often travel great distances in search of food sources.

The common redpoll is a relatively long-lived bird, with some individuals known to live for over 10 years.

12. Red Junglefowl

Red Junglefowl
Red Junglefowl – Gallus gallus

Red jungle fowls are the wild ancestors of the domesticated chicken that we see today on many farms. Introduced to Hawaii centuries ago, this Hawaiian bird with a red head was brought to the island as a source of food for people who lived on the island thousands of years ago.


Males are really beautiful. They have blue iridescent feathers on their tail, gorgeous flame-colored feathers on their body and a red head. Females are duller.

Other facts:

The red junglefowl are usually found in forests, but can also be found in scrublands, grasslands, and even urban areas.

These birds are omnivorous and will eat a variety of things including insects, fruits, seeds, and leaves. The red junglefowl are known for their loud calls which they use to communicate with other members of their flock. These calls can be heard up to a long distance away!


What is the red bird in Hawaii?

The i’iwi is one of the most common red birds in Hawaii. Other birds include the red crested cardinal, northern cardinal, and yellow-billed cardinal.

What does a Hawaiian cardinal look like?

The red crested cardinal has a striking red head, gray back and white below. They also have dark legs and pale bills.

Are there any cardinals in Hawaii?

Cardinals that call Hawaii home are the red crested cardinals, northern cardinals, yellow billed cardinals and black cardinals.

Are cardinals invasive in Hawaii?

Red crested cardinals are considered an invasive species in Hawaii. Though introduced to Hawaiians as a pet in the early 1900s, a lot of people set them free illegally and their numbers have increased, leading them to invading farms as well as urban spaces.

Are there black cardinals in Hawaii?

Considered an invasive bird species, black cardinals were introduced to Hawaii in the 1900 and released to the wild illegally. East year they raid orchards, leading to thousands in damage.

What bird in Hawaii looks like a cardinal?

The red crested cardinal is a Hawaiian red bird that looks like a cardinal but is from the tanager family.




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