Manu Minute: The tricky red-billed leiothrix
At just over 5 inches beak to tail, the red-billed leiothrix is small enough to sit comfortably in the palm of your hand. But don't underestimate this little bird — its song packs a punch.
A leiothrix won't hesitate to "scold" or loudly chatter if it feels threatened. But its better known its long, melodic songs — power ballads, if you will.
The combination of their talkative nature and their multicolored plumage made leiothrix popular cage birds throughout the 20th century, which was how they first came to the islands. Through a few escapes and a series of intentional releases, leiothrix established a healthy population in Hawaiʻi that persists to this day.
Red-bill leiothrix get their name from, you guessed it, their ruby-colored beaks. They also have bright patches of red and yellow on their wings.
Despite their bright coloration, leiothrix can be hard to spot. They like to forage in the dense shrubs and small trees near the forest floor where they can blend in with the green foliage. Your best bet is to listen for their harsh chirps or their loud songs.