Everything comes from the pō. In the depths of darkness and the place of no light, life begins. In lines 35 and 36 of the Kumulipo, the most well-known of the Hawaiian creation chants, we see the birth of the ʻēkaha and the ʻēkahakaha. This is the first of several pairings of organisms seen in the chant (one living in the sea that guards the other living on land). It is evidence of the deep science of our kūpuna who named and organized the seemingly countless forms of life around them from the coral polyp all the way to kānaka (humans). The name ʻēkaha applies to the birdʻs-nest fern, the black coral, and limu that grow both in the sea and on land. The birdʻs nest fern, ʻēkahakaha, lives in the dark of Hawaiian forests, many of which are in decline. The black coral, ʻēkaha kū moana, an historically over-harvested species, lives in the dark of the ocean. Although these last two species have been troubled by human activity, they are still living there in the depths of those faraway places - Aia nō ke noho ala ma kauwahi lipolipo.
These feisty forest birds, known as the Hawaiian flycatchers, are found on the islands of Hawaiʻi, Oʻahu, and Kauaʻi. The Oʻahu subspecies, Chasiempis ibidis, was federally listed as endangered in 2000. These are territorial birds with gorgeous plumage patterns of black, brown, rufous, and white. Hawaiians said that some of their distinctive calls were the birds saying their own names. They would also say, " ʻono ka iʻa" - fish is delicious, as they are famous in legends for wanting others to get their fish for them. Kahuna kālaiwaʻa (canoe-building experts) watched these birds carefully and knew that if the ʻelepaio perched for a short time on the trunk of a tree and did not peck at it, the tree was free of bugs and suitable for making into a canoe.
The 20 known species of Eupithecia caterpillars endemic to Hawaii are the only ones in the world that have taken to eating insects and are thus considered carniverous. Also known as the grappling inchworms, these guys perch on small tree branches, cleverly blend into their surroundings, and when an unsuspecting insect alights they quickly snap in the direction of their prey and seize it in raptorial fashion. Found on all the main Hawaiian islands, these predatory caterpillars exhibit intriguing evolutionary adaptations that set them apart from other species in this genus.