Hawaii Forest Bird Recovery Project Reminds People, “Birds Not Rats”
Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 2:00 am | Updated: 9:51 pm, Tue Jun 7, 2016.
The Garden Island
HANAPEPE — With fewer than 500 ʻakikiki, an endemic Hawaiian honey creeper, (Oreomystis bairdi) left in the wild, a loss of even a couple of eggs to predators like rats is considered a setback to the people trying to save this native species from extinction on Kauai.
During a routine nest check at Halepaakai on Monday, a team from the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project discovered an empty nest, where previously there had been two ʻakikiki eggs. The team had planned to harvest the eggs today as part of their efforts to create a captive breeding population.
“With the population of ʻakikiki declining so dramatically, it’s heartbreaking to see a nest impacted like this,” said Dr. Lisa “Cali”Crampton, KFBRP director. “We think rats are the likely predators because they leave eggs fragments behind. An avian predator, like an owl, would have probably taken the whole egg. This nest was outside a rat trapping grid at Halepaakai, in an area just northwest of Mt. Waialeale.”
The grid area has 150 traps.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently up-listed the ʻakikiki’s recovery priority to the highest level. Very few species have this designation.
The KFBRP, which is administratively attached to the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife works with multiple partners, including the USFWS, the University of Hawaii and San Diego Zoo Global on conservation efforts for the ʻakikiki and other threatened and endangered forest birds on Kauai.