Hawaii Elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis)

Hawaii elepaio | image by Dominic Sherony via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.0

Common Name: Hawaii Elepaio

Scientific Name: Chasiempis sandwichensis
SizeDietRange in HawaiiStatus in Hawaii
6 to 7 in.primarily feed on insects, such as beetles, flies, and caterpillarsBig Island, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, and Mauivulnerable

The Hawaii Elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis) is a small passerine bird species that is native to the Hawaiian Islands. It belongs to the family Monarchidae, which includes a group of insect-eating birds known as monarch flycatchers.

Hawaii Elepaio


Hawaii elepaio on a twig
Hawaii elepaio on a twig | image by ALAN SCHMIERER via Flickr

The Hawaii Elepaio is a small passerine bird with a distinctive appearance. It has a long, curved bill, dark brown upperparts, and white underparts. The wings and tail are also brown, with white bars on the wings and tail feathers.

The head of the Hawaii Elepaio is relatively large, with a short crest on the crown. The bill is long and curved, with a hooked tip. The eyes are large and dark, with a prominent white eye-ring.

The Hawaii Elepaio is approximately 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm) in length and weighs around 0.5 ounces (14 grams). It has a wingspan of about 8 to 9 inches (20 to 23 cm). Overall, it is a small, slender bird with distinctive black and white markings on its head and body.


Hawaii Elepaio are omnivorous birds, feeding on a wide variety of insects, fruit, and nectar. They are active foragers, using their long bills to probe for insects in the bark and leaves of trees.

Insects make up a significant portion of the Hawaii Elepaio’s diet, and they will eat a variety of insects, including beetles, flies, moths, and caterpillars. They are also known to feed on spiders and other arthropods.


Hawaii Elepaio are active, agile birds that are often seen foraging and moving through the canopy of trees. These birds are territorial and will defend their territory from other elepaio and other birds. They are known for their distinctive calls, which are often used to communicate with other members of their group.


Hawaii Elepaio typically build their nests in trees, using a variety of materials such as leaves, grasses, and feathers. The female lays a clutch of two to four eggs, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks. The nests are typically cup-shaped and are built in the branches of trees or shrubs.

Hawaii Elepaio are non-migratory and are found only in the Hawaiian Islands. They are found in a variety of habitats, including rainforests, woodlands, and grasslands, and they are known to be adaptable and able to thrive in a range of environments.

The nesting behavior of Hawaii Elepaio is similar to that of other passerine birds, such as sparrows, finches, and warblers. Both males and females participate in building the nest and caring for the young, and they are known to be attentive and protective parents.


Hawaii elepaio on tree branch
Hawaii elepaio on tree branch | image by Bettina Arrigoni via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Hawaii Elepaio are found in a variety of habitats, including rainforests, woodlands, and grasslands.


They are found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands, including the Big Island, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, and Maui, as well as on some smaller, uninhabited islands.

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Conservation Status

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Hawaii Elepaio is classified as a “Vulnerable” species. This means that it is considered to be at risk of extinction in its natural habitat. The IUCN notes that the population of the Hawaii Elepaio has declined over the past three generations and is likely to continue declining in the future.

Interesting Facts

1. They have variety of habitats

These birds are found in a variety of habitats, including rainforests, forests, and woodlands. They are most commonly found in the higher elevations of the Hawaiian Islands.

2. They are known for their distinctive calls

Hawaii Elepaio are known for their distinctive calls, which sound like a series of high-pitched chirps. They use these calls to communicate with each other and to defend their territory.

3. They are important seed dispersers

These birds are important seed dispersers in their native habitat, helping to spread the seeds of native plants throughout the forest.

4. They are member of the Monarchidae family

The Hawaii Elepaio is a member of the Monarchidae family, which includes other flycatchers and monarchs.

5. They are small

The Hawaii Elepaio is a small bird, with a length of around 5-6 inches and a wingspan of around 8 inches. They have a distinctive appearance, with a dark head and a reddish-brown breast and back.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What do Hawaii Elepaio eat?

Hawaii Elepaio primarily feed on insects, such as beetles, flies, and caterpillars. They will also occasionally eat fruit, nectar, and other small invertebrates.

Can I keep a Hawaii Elepaio as a pet?

It is not legal to keep Hawaii Elepaio as pets in the United States. These birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it illegal to possess, sell, or transport native bird species without a permit.

Are Hawaii Elepaio endangered?

The Hawaii Elepaio is not currently listed as endangered by the IUCN, but it is considered a “species of concern” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.