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.
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