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4 Photos of the Beautiful Hawaiian Red-crested Cardinal

The Red-crested Cardinal is a unique bird that is found in the beautiful island state of Hawaii. Though you can see this bird in the wild in other countries, the only state in the U.S. that has them is Hawaii. Check out these 4 photos of this exceptional creature.

1) Hawaii is the Only State Where You Can See a Red-crested Cardinal

Flickr User Imogene Huxham
Flickr User Imogene Huxham

The best habitat for this bird is a subtropical or tropical dry shrubland or a heavily degraded former forest. They are native to many beautiful places like Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and parts of southern Brazil, like Pantanal. The Red-crested Cardinal isn’t native to Hawaii, but it was introduced to the islands around 1930.

In the Hawaiian environment, their preferred habitats are parks, lawns, and dry thickets.

2) The Red-crested Cardinal Isn’t Actually a Cardinal

Flickr User Deon Van der Heever
Flickr User Deon Van der Heever

Sometimes names can be misleading. The Red-crested Cardinal is actually a part of the family of tanagers. It is characterized by its bright red head, crest, face, chin, and upper breast, which is another reason people often assume it is related to the well known, bright-red cardinal. They are commonly mistaken for red-cowled cardinals and yellow-billed cardinals also. If you look closely, you can distinguish the Red-crested cardinal from these other birds by looking for the white underparts, gray back, wings, and tail. They also have an incomplete white collar that doesn’t quite meet behind the back of their neck.

3) It Was Originally Introduced in Oahu

Flickr User tangaroaru
Flickr User tangaroaru

As a result, this bird is still most common in Oahu. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy its vibrant colors on the other islands, too.  Year-round, you are normally able to spot it in Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii also. Thankfully, they aren’t endangered, so spotting one shouldn’t be too difficult. Keep an eye out for them in pairs or small groups! And if you can’t see one… maybe you can hear one.

4) The Red-crested Cardinal is a Songbird

Flickr User brian.perkes
Flickr User brian.perkes

Not only is this bird beautiful to look at, but it is beautiful to listen to as well. The song of the Red-crested cardinal is slow but at a high frequency. Their vocalization is said to sound like “wheet-cheer-up.” Their whistles melodically go up and down the scale. These birds are notoriously quieter than northern cardinals. Check out this quick clip of a Red-crested Cardinal spotted on Kailua Beach!

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