Endangered shearwaters will now have a safe haven at a new bird enclosure about ten miles west of Wailuku. First Wind, an independent U.S.-based renewable energy company, unveiled the first of two bird enclosures this week. The Makamaka‘ole seabird mitigation project is part of an extensive program undertaken by First Wind to provide conservation benefits to the area near its Kaheawa Wind projects several miles away.
The Makamaka‘ole seabird mitigation project was designed in collaboration with leading experts in Pacific seabird conservation, and is exceptional in its technological sophistication and long-term commitment to monitoring. The enclosures will each encompass between three and four acres where shearwaters and petrels can nest and raise young safe from predators.
“This is a major milestone for the project, and we are thrilled to have nearly completed the first enclosure and to be starting on the second. When fully operational these enclosures will protect and bolster Maui’s endangered native bird species for years to come,” said Dave Cowan, vice president for environmental affairs at First Wind. “The project has been shaped with input from the community and with the support of local and international experts. We look forward to seeing the site come to serve as a gathering place and safe haven for these vulnerable birds.”
The nearly completed bird enclosure is designed to protect the federally endangered Newell’s Shearwater, and construction is underway on a second enclosure designed for the Hawaiian Petrel. The shearwater enclosure includes barriers intended to keep out non-native predators such as rats, mongoose and cats. Artificial burrows, custom decoys and sound systems broadcasting bird calls are being installed to attract shearwaters and petrels to nest. The enclosures will be kept in place indefinitely, and biologists will monitor the project over the course of the next 20 years, including using cameras installed in the enclosures to monitor behavior and nesting habits.