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  • Writer's pictureCoach Polhemus

Native Bird of the Month 2/2023 - 'Elepaio

This month's feathered friend is one of my favorites. I have literally spent over a thousand hours during my career monitoring these birds. It was tough work, hiking into valleys, hopping streams, and watching these guys do their thing---tough indeed. The 'elepaio (Chasiempis spp) are only found on Kauai, Oahu, and Hawaii Island. The birds from each island represent their own distinct subspecies, which indicates that colonization happened long enough ago for them to evolve in their own ways. Surprisingly, the fossil record tells us these birds were never present on Maui, Molokai, or Lanai.

'Elepaio are territorial, and extremely curious, often coming in very close when you enter their domain to investigate your intrusion. Border disputes between neighboring territories are a common occurrence in the weeks leading up to nesting season, and then things settle down for a bit while the adults focus on the more important task of raising their young.

The birds shown here, all from various locations on Hawaii Island, have a much whiter crown than their Oahu and Kauai relatives. The 'elepaio is renowned for assisting the ancient canoe builders in selecting the right koa log for their hulls. If an 'elepaio pecked at the log, it was deemed unsuitable and they would move on to the next one.

Next time you're out on the Pu'u O'o Trail, take a few minutes and see if you can spot one of these!


(Photo provided by Coach P).


(Photo provided by Coach P).


(Photo provided by Coach P).

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Melinda Mizuno
Melinda Mizuno
20 февр. 2023 г.

I always feel so happy and blessed to spot native birds in the forest, driving through Waikii, or down at the coast. Such special beings with a connection to Hawaii's past. 💖

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