10 Red Headed Birds of Hawaii (With Pictures)

10 Red Headed Birds of Hawaii (With Pictures)

Situated in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is renowned for its relaxed lifestyle and beautiful beaches. The stunning landscapes on the islands are home to a wide array of biodiversity, including almost 350 bird species, of which 60 are endemic.

When it comes to birds standing out in the environment, none do so more than the birds with red heads. They are some of the most noticeable birds on the islands, catching the attention of visitors and locals alike.

Hawaii is home to many introduced bird species; a large percentage have red heads.

The red color on their heads is caused by pigments known as carotenoids in their feathers, which they often obtain through food.

You’ll often notice that male birds usually have the brightest red heads, and that is due to sexual selection. The more brilliant colors indicate that the male can get enough food and is genetically strong, making the females more likely to mate with him.

In the following article, we look deeper into the 10 types of red headed birds in Hawaii.

1. Apapane (Himatione sanguinea)

The Apapane is one of the two birds endemic to Hawaii with red heads. It has brilliant crimson-red plumage on its head, underside, and upperside, while the black wings and tail create some contrast along with the white rump and undertail.


This is the most widely distributed Hawaiian Honeycreeper. They live in forests at altitudes greater than 4100 feet (1250 meters).

They are mainly nectarivorous but also eat insects.

2. Red Avadavat (Amandava amandava)

Hailing from South and Southeast Asia, the Red Avadavat is an introduced species in Hawaii.

This small finch has beautiful plumage, mostly red on breeding males, with a dark tail and wings and white spots. The bellies of males can be red or yellow. The females have grey plumage, with darker wings, a paler underside, and rufous on the rump.

Red Avadavat

The red beak is seen in males and females. Non-breeding males are duller, with fewer spots and less red throughout the body.

Their preferred habitats are grasslands, marshes, fields near water, meadows, yards, and parks, where they eat grass seeds and insects.

3. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

The Northern Cardinal is one of three introduced types of cardinals in Hawaii. The males have a brilliant bright red coloration, including a red head. They also have a black face mask and throat.

The females are mostly brown, except for the dark face mask and hints of red on the crest, wings, and tail. Northern Cardinals sport an impressive crest and red beaks.

Northern Cardinal

Their native range includes most of eastern North America and the southwestern United States. They occur in thickets, shrubby fields, forests, woodlands, forest edges, parks, and yards.

Their diet consists of seeds, fruit, and insects. They can be attracted to feeders with seeds.

4. Red-crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata)

The Red-crested Cardinal is one of Hawaii’s most distinct red headed birds. They have striking plumage with a bright red head, crest, and throat contrasting with the white underparts, a light grey back, dark wings, and a greyish beak.

The Red-crested Cardinal is an introduced species in Hawaii from South America and one of the islands’ most well-known red headed birds. In their native range, they live in shrublands, grasslands, degraded forests, parks, and yards.

Red-crested Cardinal

You’ll most likely see them in suburban and urban environments such as parks and yards in Hawaii. However, they have spread into grasslands and farmlands.

Their diet consists of fruit, nectar, seeds, and insects.

5. Yellow-billed Cardinal (Paroaria capitata)

The Yellow-billed Cardinal is a beautiful type of tanager that was introduced to Hawaii. They have bright red heads, black throats, dark grey upper sides, a white collar, and on the underside, they are white. As their name suggests, they have a yellow beak that contrasts with the rest of the body and a pale eye.

Yellow-billed Cardinal

They are native to the middle part of South America and inhabit grasslands, savannahs, shrublands, yards, and parks in human settlements.

Their diet is composed of fruit, seeds, and insects.

6. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

The House Finch males have a fuzzy red head, chest, and rump, a grey-brown body, prominent dark streaks on the chest, and a horn-colored beak. The females are entirely brown on the upper side with darker brown streaks. The underside is whitish with dark streaks.

They occur in semi-arid deserts, grasslands, chaparral, savannahs, open forests, and urban environments such as yards and buildings.

House Finch

Their native range is in western North America, but they are now also introduced to the east of the continent and places like Hawaii.

Their diet is composed of seeds, fruit, and buds. Occasionally, they eat insects.

7. I’iwi (Drepanis coccinea)

The I’iwi is a brilliant scarlet bird with a red head and body. This distinct-looking bird has a bright body, except for the black wings and tail. They also have a unique pink beak that is slightly decurved, long, and slender.


They use their unique beak to reach into flowers for nectar which they feed on. They supplement their diet with insects and spiders.

The I’iwi is endemic to Hawaii and lives in montane rainforests at elevations higher than 4100 feet (1250 meters).

8. Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus)

Have you ever wondered where the domestic chicken originated from? Look no further as you meet the domestic chicken’s ancestor – the Red Junglefowl.

They are native to South and Southeast Asia but were introduced to many parts of the world, including Hawaii.

The males have elaborate plumage with red heads, combs, and wattles. They have a yellow neck, a golden-reddish back, dark underparts, glossy green wings and tails, and a white rump. They look similar to feral and domestic chickens, but the grey instead of yellow legs separate them.

Red Junglefowl

The smaller females are dull compared to the males and have smaller combs and wattles. Their plumage is primarily light brown on the underparts, while they have dark upperparts and a yellow neck.

They inhabit forests, scrublands, mangroves, plantations, and farmlands.

They feed on many plant materials and animals. Plant materials such as leaves, seeds, fruit, tubers, and roots are eaten. In terms of animals, they feed on insects, lizards, among others.

9. Red-masked Parakeet (Psittacara erythrogenys)

The Red-masked Parakeet is a green parakeet with a red head. They also have red underwings and thighs. The eyering is white, and the large beak is horn colored.

They mainly live in dry forests. However, they are also found in scrublands, agricultural areas, vegetated deserts, and urban areas.

Red-masked Parakeet

Their native range is in northwestern Peru and southwestern Ecuador, so they were introduced to Hawaii.

Their diet is composed almost exclusively of fruit.

10. Redhead (Aythya americana)

The only duck on this list of red headed birds is the Redhead. Males have a dark cinnamon-red head, a black-tipped blue beak, a black neck, chest, and undertail, a grey back, wings, and flanks. The belly and the underwings are white, and the eyes are yellow-orange.

The female is primarily brown and greyish-brown, except for the white belly. They have yellowish-brown eyes and a pale eye ring.


Their favorite habitats are wetlands, lakes, ponds, estuaries, bays, and marshes.

Regarding feeding, the Redhead eats aquatic plants, fish eggs, snails, insects, mussels, and clams.

The Redhead is migratory and occurs throughout most of North America – generally breeding in the north and wintering in the south. They were introduced to Hawaii.


Hawaii has a high diversity of birds on the islands, including a mix of endemic and introduced species. The birds with red heads are very noticeable in the environment and wonderful to observe.

Unfortunately, many birds with red heads in Hawaii are introduced species brought from other countries because of their bright colors and singing abilities. The introduction of birds and other organisms has had a negative ecological impact on native biodiversity.

Despite many efforts to conserve Hawaii’s endemic bird species, including habitat restoration, captive breeding programs, and predator controls, most populations are decreasing.

You’re more likely to see the introduced species as they are often prolific in urban environments.

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