Cardinals in Hawaii

The most common of the three species that belong to the Cardinalis genus is the Northern Cardinal, also known as Cardinalis cardinalis. On the mainland of North America, where they may be found from the northeastern to the southwestern parts of the United States as well as south through Mexico and into Belize, these scarlet songbirds have gained a lot of notoriety.

The fact that these birds can also be found on the Hawaiian Islands can surprise many people who monitor birds. So, Northern Cardinals are found in Hawaii—but how did they get there, and where exactly do they make their home on the islands?

Three distinct species of Cardinals can be seen on the Hawaiian islands. One of the many dozens of new species of birds brought to the Hawaiian Islands in the twentieth century was the Northern Cardinal. They first arrived in Hawaii in the 1930s and have become one of the state’s most common and broad resident groups. Northern Cardinals can be found on all principal islands, notably in forest environments that humans have damaged and areas close to where people live.

Northern Cardinals have not only been brought to Hawaii; they have also been brought to other places. These stunning birds were first brought to the island of Bermuda at the turn of the 19th century, and they have since established a wild population there.

It is believed that certain Northern Cardinal populations in Hawaii have experienced a slight decline over the course of the past few decades; despite this, they continue to exist as a healthy, self-sustaining population and continue to reproduce.

Do cardinals exist in Hawaii?

Since the beginning of human history, people have transported animals all over the world. Accidental introductions have occurred on occasions, such as in the case of rats and mice. In some instances, we have purposefully relocated animals with ourselves, and one such example is the Northern Cardinal that may be seen in Hawaii.

The Northern Cardinal was brought to Hawaii for the first time in 1929 and has since spread throughout the islands, where it may now be found in various settings. Hawaii is home to a significant number of avian species that were brought there from elsewhere. At the beginning of the 20th century, well-intentioned bird lovers who desired to observe more unusual bird species on the remote islands were responsible for bringing these exotic birds to the area.

It is said that an escaped caged bird became the first Northern Cardinal to be seen flying freely in Hawaii in the year 1929. However, over the course of the subsequent two years, between 300 and 500 birds were transported all the way from California to the Hawaiian islands of Kauai, Oahu, and Hawai’i and then set free there. The birds successfully established themselves and migrated to the other islands without requiring any more assistance after they were initially introduced there.

Where can you find the cardinals?

You can find North cardinals mainly in the major Hawaiian islands. Some of the place where it can be spotted includes:

  • O’ahu
  • Hawai’i
  • Ni’ihau
  • Moloka’i
  • Maui
  • Kauai
  • Lanai

In Hawaii, Northern Cardinals are most frequent in habitats disturbed or altered by human activity. They favour gardens and open lowland forests with a thick understory of vegetation. These birds can also be found in native woods that have not been disturbed at higher elevations, but you will encounter them less frequently in these environments.

Can the cardinals be found in Hawaiian throughout the year?

There are no known migrations of Northern Cardinals to or from Hawaii. They do not move around much, yet after being brought to these islands all those years ago, they have managed to spread out throughout them on their own.

Sedentary behaviour is not exclusive to Northern Cardinals; other cardinal species exhibit it as well. These birds do not travel across the continental United States during migration. It is fortunate that cardinals do not travel from Hawaii to the mainland to breed because the closest continental landmass is over 2,000 miles away, which is a very long trip for a songbird to fly

How to attract the Cardinal in Hawaii

Because they frequently visit freshwater sources and enjoy eating bird seed, Northern Cardinals are not difficult to coax into one’s garden or backyard. An excellent approach to attract these birds is to provide them with a source of food, whether in the form of a bird feeder or just by scattering bits of food around the yard. When you feed wild birds, maintaining proper hygiene is absolutely essential, therefore, if you use a bird feeder, make sure to wipe it out on a regular basis.

The food of a Northern Cardinal is quite diverse. They are fond of foods: Mealworms, Sunflower seeds, Fruits and berries, Peanuts, and many more. 

A bird bath or other water feature is an excellent tool for luring many native Hawaiian birds. Birds frequent trips to bodies of water to drink and clean themselves. When it comes to giving water, hygiene is equally as crucial, so ensure your birdbath is spotless at all times.


How rare are Cardinals in Hawaii

It is common practice to refer to northern cardinals as ‘manu ula ula’ in the Hawaiian language. Northern Cardinals may be found on all of the Hawaiian islands. However, birdwatchers have the best chance of seeing them in drier environments at lower elevations.

On the islands, birdwatchers may come across several different types of Cardinals besides the Northern Cardinal. The Yellow-billed Cardinal, also known as the Paroaria capitata, and the Red-crested Cardinal, also known as the Paroaria coronata, are both native to South America and were brought to Hawaii.

When do the cardinals nest in Hawaii?

Cardinals are permanent residents of the Hawaiian Islands and can be found nesting around the archipelago. They sustain a viable population by nesting and reproduction, eliminating the need for any new introductions.

During the summer, Hawaiian cardinals are found nesting. They construct their homes among the branches of trees and bushes, and their offspring comprises two to five mottled eggs. The eggs of the Northern Cardinal are incubated by the female for seven to eleven days, after which the chicks remain in the nest for another week or two before they are ready to fly away.


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