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This list of Hawaii birds is a comprehensive listing of all the bird species seen naturally in the state of Hawaii as determined by the Hawaiian Audubon Society. This list is based on Robert Pyle's revision dated March 31, 2005. The scope of this list encompasses the entire Hawaiian Islands chain, from Kure Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to the north, to the "Big Island" of Hawaii to the south. The following codes define the distribution and relative abundance of species on this list:
This list is presented in taxonomic order. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family accounts.
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Non-passerines: Ducks, Geese, and Swans • Partridges, Grouse, Turkeys, and Old World Quail • New World Quail • Loons • Grebes • Albatrosses • Shearwaters and Petrels • Storm-Petrels • Boobies and Gannets • Cormorants • Frigatebirds • Tropicbirds • Bitterns, Herons, and Egrets • Ibises and Spoonbills • Osprey • Hawks, Kites, and Eagles • Caracaras and Falcons • Cranes • Rails, Gallinules, and Coots • Sandpipers, Curlews, Godwits, Snipes, and Phalaropes • Gulls • Terns • Auks, Murres, and Puffins • Skuas • Stilts and Avocets • Lapwings and Plovers • Sandgrouse • Pigeons and Doves • Lories, Parakeets, Macaws, and Parrots • Cuckoos, Roadrunners, and Anis • Barn owls • Typical owls • Nightjars • Swifts • Kingfishers •
Passerines: Larks • Swallows and martins • Wagtails and pipits • Bulbuls • Mockingbirds and thrashers • Thrushes • Bush-warblers • Reed-warblers • Old World flycatchers • Old World babblers • Chickadees and titmice • White-eyes • Honeyeaters • Monarch flycatchers • Jays, crows, magpies, and ravens • Starlings and mynahs • Old World sparrows • Estridid finches • Buntings, Grassquits and American sparrows • Cardinals and saltators • Finches, Hawaiian honeycreepers, and Siskins • Meadowlarks, Cowbirds, Grackles, New World Orioles and American Blackbirds
The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swan. These are birds that are modified for an aquatic existence with webbed feet, bills which are flattened to a greater or lesser extent, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to special oils.
The Phasianidae is a family of birds which consists of the pheasants and their allies. These are terrestrial species, variable in size but generally plump, with broad relatively short wings. Many species are gamebirds, or have been domesticated as a food source for humans.
The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits.
Loons are aquatic birds size of a large duck, to which they are unrelated. Their plumage is largely grey or black, they have spear-shaped bills. Loons swim well, and fly adequately, but, because their legs are placed towards the rear of the body, are almost hopeless on land.
Grebes are small to medium-large sized freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land.
The albatrosses are amongst the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses from the genus Diomedea have the largest wingspans of any extant birds.
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized 'true petrels', characterised by united nostrils with medium septum, and a long outer functional primary.
The storm-petrels are the smallest of seabirds, relatives of the petrels, feeding on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like.
Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their long wings have black markings, as does the head.
Frigatebirds are large sea-birds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black or black and white, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have inflatable coloured throat pouches. They do not swim or walk, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week.
Cormorants are medium-to-large aquatic birds, usually with mainly dark plumage and areas of coloured skin on the face. The bill is long, thin, and sharply hooked. Their feet are four-toed and webbed, a distinguishing feature among the Pelecaniformes order.
The family Ardeidae contains the herons, egrets, and bitterns. Herons and Egrets are medium to large sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more secrative. Unlike other long necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted.
The family Pandionidae is a family of fish-eating birds of prey, possessing a very large, powerful hooked beak for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. The family is monotypic.
The family Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight.
Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey, notably the falcons and caracaras. They differ from hawks, eagles, and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their feet.
Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. The most typical family members occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers.
Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances".
The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions.
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills.
The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small to medium sized shorebirds including the Sandpipers, Curlews, Godwits, Shanks, Tattlers, Woodcocks, Snipes, Dowitchers and Phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food.
Laridae is a family of medium to large birds seabirds and includes gulls, terns, kittiwakes and skimmers. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet.
Skuas are in general medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They have longish bills with a hooked tip, and webbed feet with sharp claws. They look like large dark gulls, but have a fleshy cere above the upper mandible. They are strong, acrobatic fliers.
Alcids are superficially similar to penguins due to their black-and-white colours, their upright posture and some of their habits, however they are not related to the penguins at all, being able to fly. Auks live on the open sea, only deliberately coming ashore to nest.
Sandgrouse have small, pigeon like heads and necks, but sturdy compact bodies. They have long pointed wings and sometimes tails and a fast direct flight. Their legs are feathered down to the toes. 1 species has been introduced to Hawaii.
Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. All of the species listed have been introduced.
Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back. Although many different species of parrots have been released in Hawaii, particularly in larger cities, these 4 species below have been accepted by Hawaii Audubon as currently having or having had established populations. Hawaii has no native parrot species, all have been introduced.
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs.
Barn owls are medium to large sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. It has been introduced to Hawaii.
Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. Hawaii has one native species of Owl, and is a distinct subspecies.
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is crypically coloured to resemble bark or leaves.
The swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang.
Kingfishers are medium sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails.
The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show levels of learned behavior of a high degree.
The Monarchinae are a relatively recent grouping of a number of seemingly very different birds, mostly from the southern hemisphere, which are more closely related than they at first appear. Many of the approximately 140 species making up the family were previously assigned to other groups, largely on the basis of general morphology or behaviour. With the new insights generated by the DNA-DNA hybridisation studies of Sibley and his co-workers toward the end of the 20th century, however, it became clear that these apparently unrelated birds were all descended from a common ancestor. The Monarchinae are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines, many of which hunt by flycatching. The AOU split the complex into 3 separate species in 2010. All are endemic to Hawaii.
Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds.
The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base.
The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. 1 species has been introduced, but is no longer established.
The Mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers, and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalization, especially their remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. The species tend towards dull grays and browns in their appearance. 1 species has been introduced to Hawaii.
Starlings are small to medium-sized Old World passerine birds with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct, and most are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. The plumage of several species is dark with a metallic sheen. 3 species have been introduced to Hawaii.
The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country.
The Thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly but not exclusively in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. 5 species are endemic to Hawaii, and 1 species is accidental.
The Old World flycatchers are a large family of small passerine birds restricted to the Old World. These are mainly small arboreal insectivores, many of which, as the name implies, take their prey on the wing. The appearance of these birds is very varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls. The nest of most is a well-constructed cup in a tree or hedge. 1 species has been introduced to Hawaii.
The Old World babblers are a large family of mostly Old World passerine birds. They are rather diverse in size and coloration, but are characterised by soft fluffy plumage. These are birds of tropical areas, with the greatest variety in southeast Asia. These birds have strong legs, and many are quite terrestrial. This group is not strongly migratory, and most species have short rounded wings, and a weak flight. Morphological diversity is rather high; most species resemble "warblers", jays or thrushes. All of the following species have been introduced to Hawaii.
The white-eyes are small passerine birds native to tropical and sub-tropical Africa, southern Asia and Australasia. The birds of this group are mostly of undistinguished appearance, the plumage above being generally either some dull color like greenish olive, but some species have a white or bright yellow throat, breast or lower parts, and several have buff flanks. But as indicated by their scientific name, derived from the Ancient Greek for girdle-eye, around the eyes of many species is a conspicuous white ring. They have rounded wings and strong legs. The size ranges up to 15 cm (6 inches) in length. All the species of white-eyes are sociable, forming large flocks which only separate on the approach of the breeding season. Though mainly insectivorous, they eat nectar and fruits of various kinds. 1 species has been introduced to Hawaii.
Honeyeaters prefer to flit quickly from perch to perch in the outer foliage, stretching up or sideways or hanging upside down at need. They have a highly developed brush-tipped tongue, longer in some species than others, frayed and fringed with bristles which soak up liquids readily. The tongue is flicked rapidly and repeatedly into a flower, the upper mandible then compressing any liquid out when the bill is closed. All species of honeyeaters below were endemic to Hawaii, but are now extinct. The Kauai Oo was the last species to survive, last seen in 1987.
The Emberizidae are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are named as buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as Sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae.
The Cardinals are a family of passerine birds that are robust, seed-eating birds, with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages. One species has been introduced to Hawaii. It is similar to the cardinal in Kentucky.
The Icterids are a group of small to medium, often colourful passerine birds. Most species have black as a predominant plumage colour, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red.
Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well.
Hawaiian honeycreepers are small passerine birds endemic to Hawaiʻi. Most authorities categorize this group as a family Drepanididae, but some biologists still place as a subfamily Drepanidinae of the finch family Fringillidae. The wide range of bills in this group, from thick finch-like bills to slender downcurved bills for probing flowers have arisen through adaptive radiation, where an ancestral finch has evolved to fill a large number of ecological niches.
Old World sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or greyish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. 1 species has been introduced to Hawaii.
The estrildid finches are small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They are gregarious and often colonial seed-eaters with short, thick, but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but vary widely in plumage colours and pattern. All the estrildids build large domed nests. Most are sensitive to cold and require a warm, usually tropical, habitat. All of the following species have been introduced to Hawaii.