Kaua'i 'Elepaio'Elepaio

Chasiempis sandwichensis sclateri

'Elepaio juvenile - photo by Lucas BehnkeThe 'Elepaio is a small, gray-brown flycatcher weighing 12-18 g.  On Kaua'i, adult males and females appear similar, with a dark grayish brown back and head, white underparts and orange-brown breast.  Young birds have a different appearance from adults, with rufous feathers on the head, back and breast.  Another distinguishing characteristic of 'Elepaio is the long tail, which is regularly held up at an angle.

'Elepaio eating a spider - photo by Eric VanderWerz'Elepaio forage primarily on small insects and spiders, and they can be seen looking for invertebrates in leaf litter or along branches of 'ōhi'a trees.  The breeding season for the 'Elepaio fluctuates between years, and may be dependent on rainfall, but on average lasts from February to June.  Breeding pairs are monogamous, and males can be highly territorial, even chasing other males through the forest.

The 'Elepaio played an important role in Hawaiian mythology; they were thought of as the guiding spirit ('aumakua) of canoe makers.  'Elepaio can be found on the islands of Hawai'i, O'ahu and Kaua'i.  However, the subspecies C.s. sclateri is endemic to Kaua'i. Like other native forest birds on Kaua'i, the 'Elepaio was historically found at all elevations but is now restricted to forests above 1,000 m elevation in the Alaka'i Plateau. 'Elepaio can easily be seen mesic and rain forests in the Koke'e and Alaka'i regions on Kaua'i.