Manu Minute: 'Ōma'o, The Sly Thrush

Nov 25, 2020

The 'ōma'o is a mostly grey and brown, robin-like bird in the thrush family. Juveniles have a different plumage pattern than adults, with a white and black scalloped pattern on their breast.
Credit 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.

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


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 'akiapōlā'au 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.