ʻElepaio

1. nvi. A species of flycatcher with subspecies on Hawaiʻi (Chasiempis sandwichensis sandwichensis), Kauaʻi (C. sandwichensis sclateri), and Oʻahu (C. sandwichensis gayi). The Kauaʻi subspecies is also called ʻāpekepeke. 

2. n. A native variety of taro; the leaves are mottled with white. (HP 17).

elepaio 520x289 Clark

The ʻelepaio has three distinct subspecies: found on Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, and Hawaiʻi. And reasoning would go that they are common on Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi, not so on Oʻahu (can you guess why?). It is a small bird (about 5 inches) primarily brown with a light underside and a cocked-tail posture. It catches insects on the fly or on vegetation. It is native to Hawaiʻi.

It is a bold and curious bird that is known to follow hikers throughout the forest. It is considered the guardian of canoe makers (nā kālai waʻa) as it aids them in choosing the right tree. Canoe makers knew that if an ʻelepaio is on a koa tree, spending a lot of time, that tree is probably infested with insect and is probably not the best choice for a waʻa (canoe).

The ʻelepaio has adapted quite well, unlike most native forest bird. Although it is of small size, it was eaten, but its feathers were not collected, unlike a number of other first birds.

Nui nā ʻelepaio ma ka nahele – There are a lot of ʻelepaio in the forest.

Ua ʻelepaio ʻia ka waʻa – The canoe is [marked] by the ʻelepaio (applied to a failure).

ʻElepaio kāhea iʻa – Fish calling ʻelepaio (said of one who talks about his wants and does nothing to obtain them).

Ua ʻelepaio ʻia ka hana – The work has been spoiled by an ʻelepaio (said of any task that has to stop before completion).

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