Non-Native Birds

Along with Maui's native birds, there are a number of non-native species that have been introduced through human activity. Maui's native birds coevolved in isolation and developed specialized life-history requirements in order to minimize competition. Having been introduced just within the last 100 years or so (not even a blink of an eye in evolutionary time), our native birds may not be capable of adjusting successfully to the novel ecological changes brought about by these species and may represent an important threat to the viability of our native bird populations. Several of these alien species occur within the same habitat, eat the same foods, and use similar foraging strategies. Therefore, direct competition for limited food and habitat may be a serious issue. Having coevolved with disease, these species are resistant to avian pox and malaria and may serve as reservoirs for these devastating diseases. Additionally, because these species are fairly common to abundant island-wide, they may also play a role in spreading the seeds of invasive plants into native habitats. Although the jury is still out on how large a role non-native birds are playing in the decline of our native birds, more study is needed and close monitoring is critical.

Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus)

This small, nimble passerine native to Eastern Asia, was intentionally introduced to the Hawaiian Islands around 1930. Both on its own and through further introductions, it quickly spread throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago and quickly became the most abundant passerine on the islands today. The species is highly adaptable and occurs in all habitats in Hawaii from sea level to tree-line. It is abundant in Hanawi Natural Area Reserve and The Nature Conservancy's Waikamoi Preserve. Japanese White-eyes have a varied diet which includes arthropods and their larvae as well as fruits and nectar. There is much overlap in habitat use and foraging strategies between this species and Maui's native forest birds and they may be major competitors for limited food resources.

Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea)

An extremely active, boldly colored little passerine native to Southeast Asia, Southern China, and the Indian Himalayas, this popular cage bird was intentionally released in the Hawaiian Islands in 1911. Despite its behavior and striking coloration, it can be surprisingly difficult to locate as it flits through dense vegetation. It is found in a wide variety of habitats in the Hawaiian Islands and is fairly common in Hanawi where it forages in the understory on fruits and invertebrates. May compete with native birds where foraging and habitat use overlap.

Japanese Bush-warbler (Cettia diphone)

This drably plumaged denizen of dense forest understory and thickets can be very difficult to locate visually. When one is seen, it can be readily identified by its warm brown upperparts, drab whitish breast and flanks and conspicuous supercilium. During the breeding season, makes its presence known with its loud, distinctive song. This warbler-like passerine native to Japan was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in the 1930s. It is common on Oahu and within the last 10 years has spread to Moloka'i, Lana'i, Maui, and Kaua'i. On Maui, this species is rapidly increasing and is now common where we work and may be another competitor for food resources. It is not known what pressures this species will exert on Maui's native forest birds as it continues to expand.

Melodius Laughing-thrush (Garrulax canorus)

This is another drably plumaged, skulking passerine fond of dense vegetation. It can be identified by its rusty-brown plumage, white 'spectacles', yellow bill and rich, varied song. Native to China and Southeast Asia, it was introduced to Hawai'i in the 1900s and is common on Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii. It feeds on fruit and insects and is found in Hanawi in low numbers.

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

This is the bright red songbird most Americans from the Eastern US are familiar with from their birdfeeders and backyards. This species was first introduced in 1929 and is now common on all main islands.

Other introduced birds found on Maui - None of the following are native!

  • California quail Callipepla californica
  • Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo
  • Chukar Alectoris chukar
  • Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus
  • Gray Francolin Francolinus podcicerianus
  • Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus
  • Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 
  • Indian Peafowl (Peacock) Pavo cristatus
  • Cattle Egret Bubuclus ibis
  • Rock Pigeon Columba livia
  • Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
  • Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
  • Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
  • Barn Owl Tyto alba
  • Eurasian Sky Lark Alauda avarensis
  • White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus
  • Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
  • Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
  • Red-crested Cardinal Paroaria coronata
  • House Sparrow Passer domesticus
  • House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus
  • Orange-cheeked waxbill Estrilida melpoda
  • Java Sparrow Padda oryzivora
  • African Silverbill Lonchura cantans
  • Nutmeg Mannikin Lonchura punctulata