Red-crested Cardinal

Red-crested Cardinal, Big Island

Red-crested Cardinal, Big Island

If you spend even a day in the Hawaiian Islands, you will see numerous exotic and colorful birds wherever you go.  The red-crested cardinal is common in the lowlands of the islands of Oahu and Maui, and on several other islands as well.


Their thick, strong bill indicates the bird is a seed-eater; so you will often see it on the ground searching for seeds, insects, and small arthropods.  They visit bird feeders, and frequent parks and lawns too.


Like most of the birds in Hawaii, Paroaria coronata was introduced to the Islands.  It was brought to Oahu in 1930 from Brazil.  Its native origin is in South America where they still live:  Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.  Although the Red-crested looks similar to the all-red Northern Cardinal (found on all the main islands of Hawaii) they are not related.


Red-headed Cardinal, Hawaii

Red-crested Cardinal, Hawaii

One day while snorkeling on a beach in Maui, we noticed a red-crested cardinal (top photo) taking an interest in the fallen coconuts on the beach.  He liked the insects on the rotten fruit.  Locals don’t pay much attention to this bird because they see it often, but those of us who would never see one unless visiting South America, find them particularly dapper.  Even rotten coconuts on the sandy beach are wonderfully exotic to me.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander

Red-crested Cardinal, Oahu

Red-crested Cardinal, Oahu


58 thoughts on “Red-crested Cardinal

  1. Jett, I love, love, love this cardinal! Living in Missouri the bright red cardinal is one of my favorite birds. However, I’ve never seen this gorgeous blue cardinal. Thank you so much!!!

    • Yes, especially in the mornings — so much bird song! It’s usually the myna bird in Hawaii that is especially vocal, though they all have something to contribute to the chorus. Thank you Jan! 😀

    • Yes, they are not one you see too often. You can either see them in the wild in Hawaii or in those countries in South America. I hope you see one some day Cecilia. Thanks so much for your visit and comment. 😀

  2. I was blessed by one of these birds visit to my backyard in Georgia. I was lucky enough to shoot some pictures and when I called Audubon Society to report it they told me that it was most likely an escapee from some bird collector. They weren’t interested but then she said that if I may a monetary contribution to the Society they would be very interested. That was then, most likely the last call I would do to them for the rest of my life! Thanks Jet, they are very common in Argentina and Uruguay! 🙂

    • Wow, how unusual to get one at your feeder in Georgia. But then, your feeders have got to be the hottest spot in Georgia, HJ. 😀 As for Audubon’s response, oh geez, what a chintzy way to behave. Very glad you enjoyed the post my friend. 😀

  3. We saw this beautiful bird several times when we were in Maui this winter. I had never seen it before and was very fascinated with the strong red colour of it head. Unfortunately they seemed to be a bit more weary that the other birds so we didn’t get any good photos of it like the ones presented in the this post:)

    • Ah, you have seen this beauty in the wild, I’m so glad you recognized it Inger. Glad you enjoyed the post and photos, and appreciate your visit and comment. 😀

    • Thanks for your comment and visit, Frank — glad you liked Athena’s photos. That day with the coconut-hopping cardinal was a fun one for photographing. 😀

    • Ahhh, your comment was music to my ears Sue! I love hearing that my posts encourage bird mindfulness. Birds are easily forgotten or taken for granted, but if you come across a place that is so developed and de-natured that it is void of birds, you/we remember, sometimes too late, how important these little guys are to our planet. Thanks so much for your visit today and all the other days too — very much appreciated. 😀

  4. What a good looking bird! Definitely exotic to me as I’ve never seen one “live” – thanks for the great photos & informative post!

    • Yes, it’s not a bird we see even photos of too often, and the literature is scant too. I’m happy then to have introduced you, Tiny. Appreciate your visit too. 😀

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