Endangered Hawaiian iiwi, one of the few Hawaiian native birds of Oahu

13 Pretty Birds Of Oahu To Spot On Your Vacation

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Oahu, like all the main islands of Hawaii, is a birdwatcher’s paradise!

Though we are amateur birdwatchers, and kept a purposeful eye out for the pretty birds of Oahu while on vacation, Oahu birds are so plentiful and stunning, even a casual tourist can’t miss them!

Popular hotspots and birding trails on Oahu include:

Wild peacock roaming in Oahu | Birds of Oahu
Wild peacock roaming in Oahu | Birds of Oahu

Become a bird enthusiast, learn what’s distinctive about each bird, which ones are native birds of Oahu and which are introduced. Make a systematic birds of Oahu checklist that you and your kids can use to tick off the ones you see.

Keep your smartphone handy to collect birds of Oahu images, and tag your Instagram photos for lasting memories!

Read on to learn more about these pretty Oahu birds. We’ll help you put a name to the birds you see and provide a guide to the identification of birds on Oahu.

Like birds? Check out our guide to Hawaiian birds and birds on Kauai!

Planning your trip to Oahu? Check out our 2024 guide to the most popular tours and excursions in Oahu!

Nene, Hawaiian geese | Endangered birds of Oahu
Nene, Hawaiian geese | Endangered birds of Oahu

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Birds of Oahu

Hawaiian Honeycreeper (ʻIʻiwi)

Fiery red feathers that make it look like a tiny flying flame when caught in the sunlight, the native Hawaiian honeycreeper, ‘i’iwi, is easily identified by its sharp red colored plumage and contrasting black wings and tail.

Iiwi, one of Hawaii's endemic birds | Oahu Birds
Iiwi, one of Hawaii’s endemic birds | Oahu Birds

The ʻIʻiwi also sports a long, curved bill designed for sipping nectar, perfectly adapted to the flowers of Hawaiian lobelioids.

We spotted many of these beautiful small birds in the higher elevation forests, particularly in the Koʻolau Range and the Waiʻanae Mountains.

Listen for their distinctive squeaky calls echoing through the treetops while hiking on Oahu’s rainforest trails.

Red-Crested Cardinal

The red-crested cardinal bird with a striking red head and crest looks like it’s wearing a royal crown. Its chest is a crisp white, and its wings and back are soft gray.

A South American transplant that now calls Hawaii home, the red-crested cardinal is a delightful example of nature’s adaptability, and one of the more common pretty birds you’ll likely see on Oahu!

Red-crested cardinal, one of the common birds of Oahu
Red-crested cardinal, one of the common birds of Oahu

You just can’t miss these beautiful cardinals at the Kapiolani Park or the Honolulu Botanical gardens, hotspots for catching a glimpse of these regal birds.

Hawaiian Goose (Nēnē)

The nēnē, a Hawaiian goose, is Hawaii’s state bird, famous for its resilience in adapting to the island’s volcanic terrain.

The nēnē has a striking appearance with black head, face, and bill with buff-colored feathers streaked with black. Its feet are partially webbed, perfect for navigating lava fields.

Hawaiian geese, nene, honking | Hawaiian native birds on Oahu
Hawaiian geese, nene, honking | Hawaiian native birds on Oahu

While more common on other islands, you can spot small populations at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on Oahu.

White Tern (Manu-o-Kū)

The white tern is a vision of purity, all white with a sleek black ring around its eyes and a sharp black beak. Its flight is graceful and fluid.

White Tern, one of the many species of sea birds in Oahu
White Tern, one of the many species of sea birds in Oahu

The White Tern is an extraordinary bird that skips the nest-building step, laying its single egg on bare branches or other flat surfaces.

You’ll see these ethereal bids all over urban Honolulu: Kapiolani Park, Ala Moana Beach Park, and even downtown trees.

Common Myna

Mynas are everywhere—from bustling city streets to serene parks and gardens, so much so that many Hawaiians consider them noisy pests.

Common myna, one of the most common birds on Oahu
Common myna, one of the most common birds on Oahu

With its dark brown body, black head, and striking yellow eye patches, the Common Myna is hard to miss. Its legs and beak are a distinctive vibrant yellow.

Originally from South Asia, this loud, confident bird has made itself at home in Hawaii, filling the air with its varied calls.

Red-Vented Bulbul

The red-vented bulbul features a rich brown body, a striking black head, and a bright red patch under its tail. Its beak is slightly curved, adding to its unique look.

Unfortunately this introduced species, the Red-Vented Bulbul has flourished in Oahu’s climate due to its adaptability and eclectic diet, and is now considered an invasive bird species since its aggressive territorial protection displaces native species.

Red-vented bulbul, one of the aggressive invasive species of birds in Oahu
Red-vented bulbul, one of the aggressive invasive species of birds in Oahu

The red-vented bulbuls thrive in residential areas, parks, and gardens, especially around Honolulu.

Japanese White-Eye (Mejiro)

A small but vibrantly colored bird, the Japanese White-Eye is olive-green with a signature white ring around its eyes. Its underparts are a subtle yellow.

These sociable birds are nectar feeders and play an important role in pollination. Introduced from Japan, they are often seen in bustling flocks.

Warbling white eye, one of the easily identifiable birds of Oahu
Warbling white eye, one of the easily identifiable birds of Oahu

Found in both urban and forested areas, they’re commonly seen in places like the Lyon Arboretum and Tantalus.

Pacific Golden-Plover (Kōlea)

The Kōlea is readily identified by its striking appearance with its gold-spotted back and a white stripe that runs from its forehead to its wings. During breeding season, it also features a black face and chest.

A marathon migrator, the Pacific Golden-Plover travels thousands of miles from Alaska to Hawaii every year.

Pacific Golden Plover, pretty water birds of Oahu
Pacific Golden Plover, pretty water birds of Oahu

Winter is the best time to see the Pacific Golden Plover, and they are often found in coastal areas, golf courses, and grassy fields around Oahu.

Saffron Finch

One of the prettiest small birds on Oahu, the Saffron Finch is a burst of sunshine with its bright yellow plumage and a touch of orange around its face. Its wings and tail are a slightly darker shade.

Saffron finch, one of the more stunning small birds of Oahu
Saffron finch, one of the more stunning small birds of Oahu

Originally from South America, this cheerful bird has adapted well to Hawaii, and is known for its joyful song and vivid color.

Look for the saffron finch in open areas such as parks and gardens/ The Diamond Head and Waikiki are prime hotspots.

Northern Cardinal

My favorite of all Oahu birds, the Northern Cardinal is a showstopper with its vivid red feathers and black mask, while the female is more understated in brown with red tinges.

Both have a distinctive crest and stout red bill.

Northern cardinal, one of the many red birds of Oahu
Northern cardinal, one of the many red birds of Oahu

You can find these beauties in wooded areas, gardens, and parks, especially in central and eastern Oahu, like the Honolulu Botanical Gardens and Manoa Valley.

Their rich, melodious song and striking appearance make them a delight to both see and hear.

Hawaiian Stilt (Aeʻo)

The Hawaiian Stilt is one of the more striking water birds on Oahu with long, thin legs, a black back and wings, and a white underbelly. Its long, pink legs make it look elegant and somewhat fragile.

Known for its extremely long legs relative to its body size, the Hawaiian Stilt is a wading bird that feeds on aquatic invertebrates.

Hawaiian stilt, one of the many elegant water birds of Oahu
Hawaiian stilt, one of the many elegant water birds of Oahu

The Hawaiian stilt is commonly found in wetlands and coastal areas, such as the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge and Kawainui Marsh.

Java Sparrow

The Java Sparrow is a small bird with a distinctive look—gray body, white cheeks, pink beak, and a black head and bib. Its belly is pinkish.

Introduced from Asia, these social birds often move in flocks and have a charming chirping call.

Beautiful Java sparrows | Birds of Oahu
Beautiful Java sparrows | Birds of Oahu

The Java sparrow is one of the more common birds of Oahu, frequently seen in parks, gardens, and around agricultural fields, especially in the Honolulu area.

White-Rumped Shama

The white rumped shama is a small, slender bird has glossy black plumage with a white rump and long tail feathers. The underparts are a rich chestnut.

White-rumped shama, one of the most famous song birds of Oahu
White-rumped shama, one of the most famous song birds of Oahu

Famous for its melodious and complex song, the White-Rumped Shama is a favorite among bird enthusiasts for its beautiful vocalizations.

The white-rumped shama is often spotted in forested areas of Oahu, particularly in the botanical gardens and nature reserves like Lyon Arboretum.

Hiking Gear Checklist

Many of Hawaii’s hikes are demanding, make sure you are well equipped and well prepared. Here’s what we typically take with us:

Hawaiian gallinule at Waimea Falls | Pretty birds in Oahu
Hawaiian gallinule at Waimea Falls | Pretty birds in Oahu

The Best Oahu Tours

Have you booked these popular Oahu tours and excursions yet?

Love snorkeling? This Turtle Canyon snorkeling excursion from Waikiki lets you frolic with colorful fish and Hawaiian green sea turtles. Hands down the MOST BOOKED Oahu snorkeling tour: turtle sightings are guaranteed!

The most popular luau in Oahu, Paradise Cove Luau has a 4.5 rating on Viator with over 3.5K reviews. The tour includes pick-up from your Waikiki hotel, pre-dinner games, arts, and crafts, a delicious meal, and an award-winning show.

Based in Waikiki but want to see more of the island? This full-day Oahu Circle Island Tour includes Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Haleiwa, the Dole Plantation, and more!

Pay your respects at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor! This popular Pearl Harbor tour includes boat tickets and round-trip transport from Waikiki.

A super popular Oahu North Shore excursion, this Oahu shark cage dive allows you to observe wild sharks in the open ocean from the safety of a cage! It’s a THRILLING Oahu adventure for your bucket list.

We have a detailed guide to the top Oahu tours and excursions if you are in the midst of planning your itinerary for the island.

Where to Stay in Oahu

Honolulu (Waikiki in particular) offers a large number of hotels and resorts, along with shopping and dining options. Most visitors to Oahu choose to base in Honolulu at least for a part of their stay.

While many of the large chains have a presence if you are looking to use your memberships, Honolulu also has several unique boutiques to consider.

Our faves include Halekulani for a splurge stay, the Lotus Honolulu for views of Diamond Head, and The Laylow for its awesome location.

Want more room to spread out or looking to stay elsewhere on Oahu? You will find VRBO listings all over the island!

On previous trips to Oahu, we have stayed in VRBO rentals in Waikiki as well as on the North Shore and the east coast and we’ve found the choice and quality great.

>> Look for an Oahu vacation rental on VRBO now!

Renting a Car in Oahu

If you want to explore more of the island of Oahu on your vacation, you should get a rental car.

Oahu’s popular attractions are spread over the island: the windward coast, the North Shore, and Ko Olina are great places to explore beyond Waikiki (or the greater Honolulu area).

While Oahu does have public transport options that are better than the other islands, a car offers a lot more flexibility and time savings.

We always use Discover Cars to book Oahu car rentals. They search across a variety of rental car companies, both budget and brand, to offer you the best deals, AND they offer free cancellations. Plus, there are no hidden fees.

>> Check availability and prices on Oahu car rentals now!

Honolulu Airport-Hotel Shuttle

If you are not planning to get a rental car at Honolulu Airport, consider booking shuttle transport in advance!

This shared shuttle can be canceled up to 24 hours from the date of service. It serves hotels in Waikiki and Honolulu and then back again to the airport the day you leave. It’s convenient and inexpensive, and saves time and hassle!

>> Check prices and availability for shared round-trip airport transfer in Oahu now!

Staying in Ko Olina? Consider this round-trip airport transfer instead!

Java sparrows foraging for seeds | Birds of Oahu
Java sparrows foraging for seeds | Birds of Oahu

More Oahu Travel Inspiration

Planning a trip to Oahu? Check out our other in-depth Oahu travel guides for help finalizing your Oahu itinerary!

Start by discovering the best things to do in Oahu. We also have a detailed guide to Oahu’s North Shore, a round-up of things to do on the east side of Oahu, and the best things to do in Ko Olina, on the west coast of the island.

If you ar planning a short first visit to the island, we have the perfect day-by-day 3 days in Oahu itinerary for you!

Of course you’ll want to learn about all the exciting things to do in Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital, and Waikiki, the touristic core of Oahu. We also have an article on the best places to eat in Waikiki!

Check out our guide to the best beaches in Oahu, and a round-up of the best beaches on the north shore of Oahu. Also read about must-visit Oahu waterfalls and botanical gardens in Oahu you have to visit.

Oahu is home to so many must-visit landmarks! Check out our in-depth article on how to visit Pearl Harbor, and our guides on the beautiful Waimea Valley in Oahu and the spectacular Byodo-In Temple.

Want to enjoy the thrill of observing sharks in the wild? Check out our article on shark cage diving on Oahu’s North Shore! Enjoy birding? Check out our guide to the birds of Oahu!

Discover the top places to go snorkeling in west Oahu, where you will find a long coastline with lovely beaches, and tips for snorkeling Kaneohe Sandbar on the island’s east coast as well as the super popular Hanauma Bay.

And if you love marine life, also check out our complete guide to (respectfully!) see and swim with dolphins in Oahu, and the best spots to snorkel with turtles in Oahu.

For hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, we have a round-up of the best Oahu hikes, and if you are looking to exclude the harder Oahu trails, a guide to the best easy Oahu hikes.

Find out how to do the iconic (and VERY popular) Diamond Head Hike near Waikiki for exceptional views. We also have a guide to the very popular Manoa Falls Trail in Honolulu.

More advanced hikers will want to read up on the Koko Head Hike, a long set of stairs leading to expansive views.

Learn where to go for the best sunsets in Oahu, whether you want to hike or enjoy watching a colorful Hawaiian sunset without working up a sweat.

We also have a guide to the best sunrise hikes in Oahu, one of which is the spectacular Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail in the southeastern part of the island. The Lanikai Pillbox Hike is another wonderful sunrise hike on Oahu!

If you are a garden enthusiast, check out our detailed guide to the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, our article on the unique Koko Crater Botanical Garden, and our guide to Foster Botanical Garden!

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Discover birds to spot as you sightsee and hike on Oahu, Hawaii! From native birds to invasive species and common birds to rare and endangered ones, there are many bird species to spot in Oahu!


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