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Manu Minute: 'Ōma'o, The Sly Thrush

Ann Tanimoto-Johnson

The 'ōma'o is one of two remaining thrush species in the Hawaiian Islands. The other is the puaiohi, a critically endangered species found only on Kaua'i.

'Ōma'o enjoy a diet of fruits and berries, as well as the occasional arthropod. They play a critical role in the seed dispersal of native plants, such as the 'ōhelo 'ai and 'ōlapa.

Credit Ann Tanimoto-Johnson
'Ōma'o eating an 'ōhelo berry.

Scientists estimate that there are as many as 170,000 'ōma'o on the southern and eastern slopes of Hawai'i Island, but don't expect to see one right away.

These stealthy birds know how to hide — they use their grey and brown plumage to blend in with the branches of the forest canopy.

Though not as showy as some of their fellow Big Island birds, like the
ʻakiapōlāʻau or the palila, the endemic 'ōma'o has one of the loudest and most recognizable songs of any native forest bird.

Read about and hear other Hawaiian birds on our Manu Minute page.

Patrick Hart is the host of HPR's Manu Minute. He runs the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson is the Lab Manager & Research Technician in the Hart Lab/Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab. She researches the ecology, bioacoustics, and conservation of our native Hawaiian forests, birds, and bats.
Savannah Harriman-Pote is a producer for The Conversation and Manu Minute. Contact her at
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