Manu Minute: A good Moa to you

In Hawaiʻi, you have the opportunity to see a multitude of beautiful birds, ranging from the lianas that dot our forests to the sandpipers along our coasts, and even the seabirds that make their home in the heart of our cities!

There are also a ton of chickens.

The islands, and Kauaʻi in particular, are home to thousands of wild chickens. Legend has it that they flew into the chicken coop during Hurricane Iwa and Hurricane Iniki, and have been at large since then. But Hawai’i has had its own version of this backyard bird for almost a millennium – the moa, or red junglefowl.

Polynesian travelers brought moa, making them the first bird introduced to Hawai’i by humans. And there are still a few strutting around, nearly a thousand years later.

Common chickens were probably domesticated from moa around 8,000 years ago. Although the two are present in Hawai’i, they have crossed paths to the point that it can be difficult to tell them apart. There are, however, a few tips.

Moa are smaller than chickens, and their plumage features a distinctive pattern of red, black, and green color. If you listen very carefully you can hear slight differences in their crows. Hear them both in today’s Minute Manu.

AMTJ_Moa Red junglefowl (wild and domestic) Spectrogram Video.mp4

Audio credit: Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML285039, ML2669)

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