WatchList Species Account for ‘Elepaio
(Chasiempis sandwichensis)

Qualifies for the list as a Red List Species


Photo: Peter LaTourrette

This small monarch flycatcher is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and is fairly common at higher elevations on Hawaii and Kaua'i, but is in serious decline on Oahu, where it was once the most common native land bird.


The 'Elepaio occupies a variety of habitats, including disturbed forest with introduced plants, rain forest, and dry, open woodland over a wide range of elevations. However, it is generally most common in wet to mesic forest at higher elevations, particularly ‘ohi’a and koa forest above 3,600 feet.


On Oahu, the 'Elepaio is most common in valleys and on slopes from 650 to more than 2,600 feet, but has decreased greatly in recent years; management is urgently needed there to prevent further declines.


The species differs in plumage coloration on the three islands where it occurs, and has been considered by some authorities as three different species. A bird of versatile foraging behavior, the 'Elepaio searches for arthropods at all levels and substrates in the forest, including capturing prey on the wing. It is long-lived, sedentary, remains paired and defends territory all year long. Territorial fights can be intense, occasionally resulting in death.


Primary threats to the 'Elepaio are forest clearing, introduced diseases, and predation by introduced mammals. The bird is important in the mythology and folklore of the Hawaiian people.