Elepaio

The recent I’iwi bird for the coffee design lead to a suggestion to paint more local birds. I’ve been doing a little research into the different species, along with the Hawaiian myths surrounding them. I always enjoy reading stories about the different myths and the animals they feature. The one I chose to currently work on is the elepaio. I’ve done a few pencil sketches and one color study to attach to this post.

Just from reading about this bird, I really love it for it’s nature but seeing photos and videos of it is truly beautiful. This is a very curious, adaptable and smart bird that makes up for its small size in personality. They’re highly territorial because once they choose a nesting site they will not leave it, and unlike many birds, they love to let you know they are there. They also perform a neat trick called “anting”, which is where they find bugs, plants or snails that are poisonous or stinky and rub them under their wings like deodorant as a form of pesticide to prevent mites and other problems. This is very important because they are currently on the endangered species list here in O’ahu due to mosquito born diseases.

They are commonly featured in Hawaiian myths and legends as messengers of gods. The Hawaiians also carefully watched these birds when choosing logs for canoes. The bird will peck at a bad log that has bugs in it.

Quick sketches of the elepaio.

Quick sketches of the elepaio.

Color study of an elepaio in Procreate.

Color study of an elepaio in Procreate.