Hawaii elepaio

Hawaii elepaio
Chasiempis sandwichensis

(Photo from Flickr)

Common name:
Hawaii elepaio (en); monarca-do-Hawai (pt); monarque d’Hawaï (fr); monarca elepaio (es); Hawaii-elepaio (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Monarchidae

This species is endemic to the island of Hawai’i, in the Hawaian islands.

These birds are 14 cm long and weigh 12-18 g.

The Hawaii elepaio is found in moist tropical forests, moist scrublands and dry savannas with some differences between subspecies. The subspecies C. s. bryani occupies arid, mostly high-altitude mamane and mamane-naio woodland, whilst C. s. sandwichensis occurs in mesic habitats on western and south-western slopes, and C. s. ridgwayi is restricted to wet, eastern slopes. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.900 m.

They forage on the foliage and in the ground, taking large insects and other arthropods.

Hawaii elepaios breed in January-August. They are monogamous and often mate for life. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a finely woven cup made of a wide variety of materials including grasses, bark strips, lichens and spider webs. It is placed in a fork or on a horizontal branch, often in mamane Sophora chrysophylla trees. The female lays 2 eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 17-19 days. The chicks are fed by both parent and fledge 15-16 days after hatching, but remain in ther parental territory for up to 10 months. Each pair can raise 1-2 broods per year.

IUCN status – VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a relatively small breeding range and a global population estimated at 216.000 individuals. The population is stable at high elevation, but declining at lower altitudes and in fact disappeared from some areas of the island. The decline is mostly caused by habitat degradation through heavy browsing by feral ungulates, as well as diseases, such as avian pox and malaria, which are spread by mosquitoes, and a problem at low and middle elevations. Conservation actions underway include unsuccessful attempts to remove goats and sheep from Mauna Kea, control of feral cats and habitat restoration and reforestation at mid and high elevations on Hawai`i. Fencing is underway on Mauna Kea to protect palila Loxioides bailleui critical habitat by excluding ungulates, which should benefit the Hawaii Elepaio.

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