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Manu Minute: Manu ʻula ʻula, the red bird

The Northern cardinal is the ruby in the crown of any backyard birder.

The cardinal has a dedicated following in the eastern U.S., where it is the official bird of seven states (narrowly beating out the Northern mockingbird). It's also a popular mascot for many schools and sports teams.

Here in the islands, the cardinal is often called manu ʻula ʻula.

It was introduced in 1929. Though the initial introduction was just one pair of mated birds in Honolulu, the local population really got going when a few birding societies purposefully released over 300 cardinals across Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, and Hawaiʻi. Such practices were commonplace at the time.

Although easy to spot due to their dazzling red plumage, their songs are distinctive too. Take a listen!

AMTJ_Northern cardinal spectrogram video.mp4

Audio credit: Peter Boesman/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML296875)

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 the energy and climate change reporter. She is also the lead producer of HPR's This Is Our Hawaiʻi podcast.
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