Backyard Birds of Hawaii: Abundant Exotics

Backyard Birds of Hawaii: Abundant Exotics

Located in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 3400 kilometres off the west coast of the United States, Hawaii is a dream holiday destination for many people. This island state is less known for its birdlife, but the birdlife is prolific.

Hawaii has an incredible array of animal species, including over 300 bird species – most of which cannot be found anywhere else in the United States. The birds of Hawaii include 60 endemic species native to the state.

Accidental birds account for 130 species, and 52 species were brought and introduced by humans. Unfortunately, the introduced species have become plentiful on many islands and outcompeted the native birds of Hawaii – driving them out of their natural ranges.

Now, the most commonly seen birds on the islands in developed areas are introduced species and the native species are usually only found in remote forests and in the mountains.

The number of species and abundance of birds that can be seen in backyards are influenced by many factors. One of those factors is whether you are based on the wet or dry side of the island.

The habitat around your backyard also influences the species composition since coastal backyards will have different types of birds compared to forested yards. The species of trees and shrubs also make a difference.

This article will focus on the most common Hawaiian birds that visit backyards, according to Project FeederWatch, which lists the most common backyard birds of Hawaii. It may not include all potential backyard birds, but it covers those most likely to be seen.

15 Main backyard birds of Hawaii

1. Zebra Dove

  • Wingspan: 24 – 26 cm
  • Length: 20 – 23 cm
  • Mass: 40 – 60 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 14 years

The Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) is a member of the Columbinae family and is native to Southeast Asia. It was first introduced to Hawaii in 1922. It is now considered the most widely distributed and one of the most common birds of Hawaii, found on all the main islands.

Zebra Dove in Hawaii

They are very easily seen since many individuals are used to the presence of humans and can be seen foraging on open ground and short grass in and around parks, restaurants and backyards.

They also occur in open low-lying areas, scrubland, farmland and, unusually for this species, forests in Hawaii.

The Zebra Dove is a small brownish dove with a white-tipped, long, slender tail and a blue-grey face. It gets its name from the black and white barring on the upper parts resembling a Zebra’s patterning.

The underparts have a cinnamon colour with black barring on the side of the belly, breast and neck.

Their distinct plumage separates them from other doves and pigeons, and their series of ‘coo’ notes is similar to the Spotted Dove call, but it sounds more piercing and faster.

Zebra Doves feed on grass, small plant seeds, and small invertebrates like insects. In urban areas, such as restaurants, hotels, and houses, they feed on human food, such as bread crumbs.

In its native distribution, Zebra Doves breed from September through June. In Hawaii, however, they breed all year round.

The courtship display involves the male bowing his head and opening up his tail feathers in front of the female.

The nest is a platform made from blades of grass and leaves. It is placed in trees and bushes or on the ground. This species can produce up to five broods in one year. Females lay either one or two eggs that are incubated for 13 to 18 days.

In Hawaii, the Zebra Dove may be detrimental to the health of the native Hawaiian bird species since it is a vector for avian malaria.

2. House Sparrow

  • Wingspan: 19 – 25 cm
  • Length: 14 – 16 cm
  • Mass: 25 – 32 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 13 years

The House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), a member of the Passeridae family, is native to Europe and Asia. It was initially introduced to Hawaii in the 1870s. This globally widespread species has adapted very well to urbanisation, increasing its numbers.

House sparrow in Hawaii

This adaptable and abundant species is found in many habitats, except forests and tundra. It is most commonly seen in farmland, cities, villages and towns. They produce short chirps and ‘phillip’ notes incessantly.

House Sparrow males have a grey crown with a black mask, a black bill and a black bib. The nape, back, and wings are rufous with black streaking. It has grey underparts. This species is sexually dimorphic, and the females look far duller than the males.

The females are brown, with no black parts. The bill is yellowish, and they have a lighter eyebrow.

The House Sparrow’s diet naturally consists of seeds and grain, but they feed on human food scraps in urban areas. They also occasionally feed on insects.

House Sparrows may breed throughout the year. Courtship involves several males calling with wings wide open, tails raised and fanned, and the bill pointed upwards while walking in a circle around a female. They eventually disperse when the female pecks at them.

In natural areas, House Sparrows mainly use tree cavities as nests, but they may also nest in other locations such as holes in rocks and cliffs, creepers on the sides of buildings, or bushes.

House Sparrows often use buildings and other artificial structures as nesting sites in urban areas. Their nest design ranges from messy to tidy, depending on the location. The nest is an elegant dome in trees and shrubs, while in ivy or other holes, the nest is a messy mixture of feathers, straw and litter.

The female lays four to six eggs per brood, and it is usual for a minimum of three broods to be produced in a single season. The eggs are incubated for 10 to 12 days.

House Sparrows are often very aggressive towards other species, displacing them from their nesting sites and even building a nest on top of another species’ nest. At the same time, the previous owner’s nestlings are often still alive.

This is a relatively rare occurrence in natural habitats but is common in urban areas where it has been introduced, such as Hawaii. They may kill other birds to take over the nest and destroy the eggs – leading to the extinction of many species, endemics in particular.

3. Java Sparrow

  • Wingspan: 21 – 23 cm
  • Length: 13 – 15 cm
  • Mass: 20 – 25 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 10 years

The Java Sparrow (Padda oryzivora) is a large, beautifully coloured finch with an overall bluish-grey body and white cheeks. The head, chin, nape and upper tail are black, while the legs, beak and eye-ring are pinkish-red.

The under tail is white, and the belly is a cinnamon-brown colour. Java Sparrows make a ‘chip’ sound and a series of ‘chip, chip, chip’ notes.

Java Sparrow in Hawaii

Java Sparrows belong to the Estrildidae family. They were introduced to Oahu in the 1960s, from where they spread rapidly to the other main islands. It is increasing in number in Hawaii, particularly in the lowlands of Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

It is common in Honolulu, particularly in the parks. This species is native to Java, Bawean and Bali in Indonesia, where it is now endangered and uncommon because of poaching for the pet trade and because it is hunted by rice paddy farmers to protect the fields since they can be an agricultural pest.

The Java Sparrow occurs in grassland and cultivated land in its natural range. It also frequents agricultural land and urban environments, associating with humans outside its natural range. They frequently visit feeders, and they feed on seeds and insects mainly.

These Hawaiian finches move in flocks and roost communally.

Java Sparrows breed from February to August. Courtship displays involve both males and females. The male sings to the female while they both dance – moving their bills around and hopping.

They build their nests using dry grass in tree cavities and holes in buildings and bushes. Females lay as many as eight eggs in each clutch, and the eggs are incubated for 13 to 15 days.

4. Spotted Dove

  • Wingspan: 43 – 48 cm
  • Length: 28 – 32 cm
  • Mass: 150 – 160 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 8 years

The Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis) is native to Southeast Asia, and it was introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s, where it is now common on the main islands. It is often seen in the same areas as Zebra Doves and native pigeons, where they compete for food and territory.

Spotted Doves occur naturally in agricultural areas and open woodland. They are a common species in rural areas too, and they thrive in areas of human development such as cities and farmland.

Spotted Dove in Hawaii

The Spotted Dove belongs to the family Columbidae. It is a large dove with a large white-tipped tail. The plumage is brownish-grey, with a black, white-spotted band on the back of the neck.

It has a rosy-coloured breast, greyish underparts, and sandy-brown upper parts with dark brown streaks or spots. The head is grey, with a hint of red wash. A whitish or pale grey wing bar is visible on the shoulder when perched. The bill is blackish, and the legs are reddish. Their call is a soft ‘coo-croo-coo’.

Spotted Doves breed in their natural distribution year-round, but peak breeding is observed between September and January.

The courtship display put on by the males consists of flying up to about 40 metres before opening up the wings and tail and proceeding to swoop down onto a perch near the female.

During the display, the males clap their wings before diving. The display also involves bobbing their heads and fluffing up their rear neck feathers while calling next to the female.

This species creates platform nests made from sticks, roots and grass. It is usually made in bushes and trees, but in an urban environment, they build their nests on the ground or on the edges of buildings. The female lays up to two eggs per clutch and incubates them for 14 to 16 days.

Spotted Doves, like most doves, feed on plant material such as grains and seeds. In rural areas, the doves may feed on animal feed.

5. Red-whiskered Bulbul

  • Wingspan: 25 – 28 cm
  • Length: 20 – 22 cm
  • Mass: 23 – 42 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 4 years

Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) belongs to the Picnonotidae family and is native to tropical Asia. This species was introduced to Oahu in the 1960s and has not spread to other islands. It is one of the most common birds of Oahu.

They feed on fruits, flower buds, insects and nectar. These vocal birds may be heard making a call, usually described as ‘kink-a-joo’, amongst other chattering calls.

Red-whiskered Bulbul in Hawaii

Red-whiskered Bulbuls are smart-looking, medium-sized birds with black heads and a large dark crest. They have brownish-grey upper parts, a brown, white-tipped tail with white tips, whitish underparts with buff flanks, and an incomplete dark chest band.

They also have white cheeks, a thin moustachial line and a red patch below the eye, known as a whisker – the part from which they are named. The vent is red, the nape is black, while the chest, belly, chin and throat are all whitish. The bill and legs are black, and the eyes are dark brown.

Red-whiskered Bulbuls occupy open bushy areas, shrubland, farmland, lightly wooded and urban areas. It inhabits thickets in cultivated areas, gardens, parks, and cities.

Red-whiskered Bulbuls breed from March to August. During that time of the year, the male puts on a display for the female. He starts by perching near the female, with his shoulders puffed up, his tail fanned, and his wings drooped while performing soft wing beats.

Red-whiskered Bulbuls create platform nests made from sticks and leaves stuck together with spider webs. The nests are made in trees and bushes. Females lay two to three eggs per clutch and only lay two to three clutches per year. The eggs are incubated for 12 to 14 days.

Red-whiskered Bulbuls threaten indigenous species as they compete for food and other resources. They may also carry avian malaria, spread seeds of invasive plants and destroy agriculture.

6. Common Myna

  • Wingspan: 37 – 41 cm
  • Length: 23 – 26 cm
  • Mass: 82 – 143 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 12 years

The Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) is native to South Asia. It was introduced to Hawaii in 1865 from India as a form of pest control. It is now widespread on the main Hawaiian islands. This species is often very tame and may even steal food close to people.

It is a noisy bird that produces a range of harsh chatters and whistles. It may mimic other bird species and create many different sounds too.

Common Myna in Hawaii

The Common Myna is a medium-sized bird with a dark brown back, a black head and neck, and a black tail that belongs to the Sturnidae family. The under tail and tail tips are white. The underparts are light brown. The bill, facial skin, and legs are yellow.

Common Mynas inhabit human settlements and urban areas such as parks, gardens, and road verges. In its natural distribution, it is found in open and sparsely wooded areas, villages, farmland, orchards and forest edges.

The Common Myna breeds throughout the year. The male courts the female by calling, head bobbing, bowing and fluffing his feathers. Common Mynas are monogamous, and they produce two broods each year. They make nests from dry grass, leaves and sticks.

The nest is usually made in a tree cavity or a hole in a building or cliff. The female usually lays up to six eggs and are incubated for 13 to 14 days.

Common Mynas feed predominantly on insects and fruits. They may also feed on young birds, eggs, and lizards.

The Common Myna is among the worst invaders in the world because it is now threatening much biodiversity by competing with native species for nesting sites. Common Mynas also kill other birds’ chicks and destroy their eggs.

7. Red-vented Bulbul

  • Wingspan: 25 – 28 cm
  • Length: 20 – 23 cm
  • Mass: 28 – 40 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 11 years

The Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) is a medium-sized bird native to India and Southeast Asia. It was introduced to Hawaii sometime in the 1950s after a bird was seen on Oahu. It was presumed to be illegally released.

Red-vented Bulbul in Hawaii

This species is now widespread on Oahu in forests and urban areas. It has also been sighted on the Big Island. This bulbul makes a variety of whistles and chirps.

The Red-vented Bulbul belongs to the Pycnonotidae family, and it has grey-brown upper parts with a scaly pattern. The head and throat are black, and it has a short crest. It gets its name from the red vent. It has a white rump and a white-edged black tail. The bill, legs and feet are black.

The Red-vented Bulbul breeds throughout the year. During the courtship period, the male displays to the female by calling and flapping his wings while fanning his tail rapidly.

This species makes a cup nest in trees and shrubs using sticks. In some cases, this species may nest in holes on the side of a mud bank or inside houses. The female lays two or three eggs per clutch. The eggs are incubated for 12 to 14 days.

The Red-vented Bulbul’s diet consists mainly of fruit, insects, flowers, nectar and reptiles on occasion.

As with the Common Myna, the Red-vented Bulbul is another of the most invasive species in the world. They are considered a pest and have impacted native wildlife, including insects such as the Monarch Butterfly, which has developed a white morph due to evading being eaten.

It causes damage to agriculture and gardens. It is estimated that this species causes approximately 300000 dollars in orchid damages per year. It also spreads the seeds of invasive plants such as Ivy Gourd (Coccinia grandis), False Kava (Piper auritum) and Miconia species. This species also competes with other birds for space and food.

8. House Finch

  • Wingspan: 20 – 25 cm
  • Length: 13 – 14 cm
  • Mass: 16 – 27 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 11 years

The House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) is a medium-sized finch belonging to the Fringillidae family. Its native range extends from Mexico to the Western United States.

It was introduced to Hawaii from San Francisco in the 1800s and is widespread across the main islands. They are most common on the dry, leeward sides of the islands.

House Finch in Hawaii

The House Finch male has a reddish head that flows onto the throat and breast. The wings, back and underside, are brown with streaks. The rump is also red. The intensity of the red colour varies from red to orange or yellow.

The females are brown with streaking – like the males with no red. The legs and feet are brown, the bill is a horn colour, and the eyes are black.

The House Finch males produce a warbling song that ends in a higher- or lower-pitched slur. The females do not call as frequently as the males and only create a simple version of the male’s song. They both also make a ‘cheep’ call.

Naturally, the House Finch lives in savannah and desert grasslands. However, they thrive in human-made habitats such as cities, buildings, and lawns. It is found across many regions, from the coast to the mountains in Hawaii, but it is ubiquitous in cities.

House Finches breed from February to August. Males perform a feeding display that starts with the female pecking the male’s beak while she flits her wings. He imitates feeding her many times before he finally feeds her.

This species also has a display flight where the male flies up to between 20 and 30 metres before gliding down to a perch while singing.

House Finches nest in deciduous and coniferous trees and on cacti and ledges. In urban areas, they nest on buildings, utilising ledges, vents, street lamps, ivy and hanging plants. They may use abandoned nests made by other birds too.

They make a cup-shaped nest using leaves, small roots and stems, feathers, sticks, and string. The females lay between two and six eggs per clutch and may produce up to six broods in a year. The female incubates the eggs for 13 to 14 days.

The House Finch is primarily a seedeater. It also feeds on flower buds and fruits. Its habit of feeding on flower buds means it has become a pest since the species damages orchards.

9. Northern Cardinal

  • Wingspan: 25 – 31 cm
  • Length: 21 – 23 cm
  • Mass: 42 – 48 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 15 years

The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) has a natural distribution in Mexico, through the eastern side of the United States and Southeast Canada.

It was introduced to Hawaii in 1929 and is now common on all main islands. Their beautiful calls are often one of the first sounds heard at dawn.

Northern Cardinal male

The Northern Cardinal is a large songbird in the Cardinalidae family which can produce beautiful songs. Male and female Northern Cardinals both sing.

They often make a loud series of down-slurred or bipartite whistles, which end in a trill. The song is described as ‘cheer, cheer, cheer’ or ‘birdie, birdie, birdie’. They have a wide variety of calls, but the most typical is a blaring metallic chip.

Northern Cardinals have a thick bill, a prominent crest and a long tail. The male is a brilliant-looking bright red bird with only a hint of black on the face mask and throat.

The females are still beautiful in their own right, with their almost entirely brown plumage showing tints of red on the crest, wings, tail and bill.

The Northern Cardinal inhabits dense areas such as overgrown fields, forest edges, thickets, hedgerows, human-designed landscapes, mesquite and gardens.

This species has adapted very well to urban environments and frequents backyard feeders. Here, it feeds on seeds, grain, fruits and insects.

Northern Cardinal males and females participate in courtship displays with their crests erect and necks outstretched while they swing their bodies from side to side, singing quietly. They build their nests in dense vines, shrubs and trees.

The nest is made of sticks that the female crushes and makes pliable with her beak before bending them into shape to make a cup nest. The nest is lined with leaves, bark (usually grapevine bark), grasses, stems, small roots and pine needles. The female lays two to five eggs per clutch and up to two broods in a season. The eggs are incubated for 11 to 13 days.

10. Red-crested Cardinal

  • Wingspan: 25 – 31 cm
  • Length: 18 – 20 cm
  • Mass: 30 – 35 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 13 years

The Red-crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata) is a medium-sized bird introduced to Hawaii in 1930 from Brazil. It is now a widespread species found on all main islands except the Big Island, where the Yellow-billed Cardinal (Paroaria capitata) is far more common.

It is one of the most common birds in Kauai. Its native distribution is in South America.

Red-crested Cardinal

The Red-crested Cardinal belongs to the Thraupidae family and has slaty-gey upper parts, a red head, throat and crest and white underparts. It has a partially incomplete white collar, a pale horn-coloured bill, and grey legs and feet.

The Red-crested Cardinal produces a musical whistle, often heard in Hawaii’s parks and gardens. In its normal range, it inhabits scrubland and degraded forests. It feeds mainly on seeds, but it also eats invertebrates.

During the breeding season, male Red-crested Cardinals display by fanning their tails, clicking their beaks and strutting around. This species makes a bowl-shaped nest out of grass, twigs and animal hair built in a tree’s fork.

The female can lay up to two broods per year, each consisting of between two and five eggs which are incubated for 12 to 13 days.

11. Red-billed Leiothrix

  • Wingspan: 17 – 19 cm
  • Length: 14 – 20 cm
  • Mass: 17 – 20 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 15 years

The Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea) is a member of the Leiothrichidae family and is native to the Himalayas and China. It was introduced to Hawaii in the 1910s and is now found on all of the main islands except Kauai.

The Red-billed Leiothrix has grey upperparts and underparts, while the cap is olive. It has black eyes, a whitish-yellow eye-ring and a yellow throat. The wings are edged in yellow-orange.

The tail is blue-grey, the legs are pinkish, and the bill is red. The female looks like a duller version of the male. This species produces a range of melodic phrases, including a ‘peter-peter’ call along with chatters and scolding notes.

Red-billed Leiothrix

Red-billed Leiothrixes occur in mountainous and hilly forests, where they feed on insects, seeds and fruits.

The Red-billed Leiothrix breeds between March and August in Hawaii. Its display involves dancing by the male in front of the female. This species builds a bowl-shaped nest in dense parts of low trees and shrubs, usually on a horizontally forked branch. It makes its nest using leaves, moss and lichen and lines the nest with fungal threads. The female usually lays three or four eggs that are incubated for approximately 14 days.

Red-billed Leiothrixes are threatened in their native range due to the persistent capturing of individuals for the pet trade. In Hawaii, this species is a vector for avian malaria.

It is presumed to be one of the main influences for the decline and extinction of many endemic species in Hawaii. It also aids in the dispersal of alien plants.

12. Rose-ringed Parakeet

  • Wingspan: 42 – 48 cm
  • Length: 38 – 42 cm
  • Mass: 95 – 140 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 30 years

The Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) belongs to the Psittaculidae family. It is native to Western-central Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

They were introduced to Hawaii in the 1960s. It is often seen in large groups in cities and towns. It makes a loud ‘kii-ak’ in flight or when perched.

Rose-ringed Parakeet
photo by Frank Sengpiel

The Rose-ringed Parakeet has yellow-green plumage overall. The bill is pinkish-red, and the tail is very long and graduated. The male has a black bib with a pink and black collar which extends from the bib to the nape, where it tapers to a point.

The collar is bordered by a pink line that extends across the nape. A bluish crescent is also seen at the base of the crown. The female looks similar to the male but without the colourful features on the head area.

The Rose-ringed Parakeet occurs in cultivated and open land with trees, open forests, palm-tree thickets, gardens and parks. It may also be found in semi-desert savannahs, open areas with low bushes, and wooded valleys.

They feed on seeds, grains, nectar and fruits.

Rose-ringed Parakeet males and females both display during the breeding season. The display involves the female rolling her eyes while chirping, moving her head semi-circularly, and flapping her wings. The male swaggers while she is displaying. They then touch beaks, and the male feeds her while lifting one leg, making soft calls.

The Rose-ringed Parakeet nests in tree holes and cavities naturally. In cities and towns, they nest in crevices, under roofs, and in other birds’ nests. The female lays three to four eggs that are incubated for 22 to 24 days.

13. Chestnut Munia

  • Wingspan: 10 – 15 cm
  • Length: 11 – 12 cm
  • Mass: 10 – 16 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 8 years

The Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla) is native to South and Southeast Asia. It was introduced to Hawaii after being brought as a pet.

It is found on the Big Island, Kauai, Oahu and Maui islands, where it inhabits cultivated areas such as lawns and open grassland. They feed on grains and seeds.

The Chestnut Munia is a brown bird with a black head and a pale grey beak. It is a member of the Estrildidae family. The male Chestnut Munia sings a song similar to a mewing kitten, starting with clicks, followed by a whine and ending the series with slurred notes.

Chestnut Munia

The male Chestnut Munia sings and performs a courtship dance while carrying a piece of grass and hopping on a perch next to the female. This species builds a dome-shaped nest made from grass, placed in tall grass or a bush. The female lays four to seven eggs. The eggs are incubated for 12 to 15 days.

14. Northern Mockingbird

  • Wingspan: 31 – 35 cm
  • Length: 21 – 26 cm
  • Mass: 45 – 58 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 20 years

The Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is a member of the Mimidae family. It is native to the United States, Canada and Mexico but was introduced to Oahu in 1928 by the Hui Manu society to help decrease the number of pest-like insects.

It is now spread across the main islands, but it remains uncommon. It prefers areas with lots of Kiawe (Prosopis pallida), but can also be found in parks, gardens, woodland edges and thickets with adjacent open ground.

Northern Mockingbird

The Northern Mockingbird is a songbird of medium size. It has yellow-orange eyes and a black bill with a brown base. The upper parts are grey, and the underparts are whitish. The wings have two white wing bars, and the tail has white outer feathers and black central feathers. The legs are a dusky colour.

The typical call made by the Northern Mockingbird is a loud ‘tchak’. It also produces a range of melodic songs and imitates other birds.

The courtship display is an acrobatic flight in which the male calls and chases the female. They proceed to perch alongside each other before taking off again. The males also perform a parachute display, flapping their wings to lift up to about one metre before dropping down with the wings open.

Northern Mockingbirds build cup nests in shrubs and trees. The nest is made of dead twigs lined with grass, leaves, paper, foil, or plastics. During the breeding season, the mockingbird uses multiple nests and lays two or three eggs in each nest. Pairs produce up to three broods in a season. The eggs are incubated for 12 to 13 days.

The Northern Mockingbird eats fruits, arachnids, insects, small lizards and earthworms.

15. White-rumped Shama

  • Wingspan: 27 – 29 cm
  • Length: 22 – 28 cm
  • Mass: 28 – 32 g
  • Maximum Lifespan: 7 years

The White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus), belonging to the Muscicapidae family, is native to South and Southeast Asia. It was introduced to Kauai in 1931 and Oahu in 1940 from Malaysia.

It has spread to the other main islands, including Molokai, Lanai and Maui. This is one of the most colourful Hawaiian birds. It is found in invasive forested areas and near human settlements in Hawaii. The diet consists of fruit and insects.

White-rumped Shama

The White-rumped Shama is black overall with an orange breast, a white rump and some white tail feathers. The females have grey-brown upper parts. The bill and eyes are black in both females and males, while the legs are pink.

White-rumped Shamas produce a melodious song that includes whistling notes and mimics other birds. Its typical call is a sharp ‘tsick’.

During White-rumped Shama courtship, the male chases after the female and then flies above the female before making a shrill call while flicking and fanning their tail feathers. In low trees, white-rumped Shamas build cup nests from leaves, roots, ferns, and stems. The female lays three to five eggs per clutch. The eggs are incubated for 12 to 15 days.


The species mentioned above are only a tiny representation of the total number of species that may be seen in Hawaiian backyards. One never knows what delightful bird species may arrive in a backyard.

Hawaii’s backyards are often filled with a host of magnificent-looking birds. Unfortunately, one will not see many (if any) native or endemic species in backyards because the introduced species have outcompeted them in most areas.

The common introduced species have adapted well to urbanisation, making them a common sight at backyard bird feeders.

Some people may not like seeing abundant introduced species in their yards. However, they are still worth marvelling at for their beautiful colours and songs that made them attractive to people and are the reasons why people brought them to Hawaii in the first place.

Seeing large numbers of some of these introduced species in Hawaii may give one a false sense of what the abundance of these species is like in reality.

The pet trade threatens many common species in their native ranges. It is always worth considering where these birds came from when admiring them.

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