Introduced species and climate change are threatening Kaua’i’s native Honeycreepers with extinction; the once noisy forest is falling quiet.
When conjuring an image of Hawai’i, many people think of beautiful sandy beaches with tall palm trees overhead. But there is more to Hawai’i, and some of the islands’ habitats holds a starkly different reality. The lush fern forests with trees covered in moss are certainly beautiful, but much has changed since humans arrived, and over the past few decades the normal sounds of native birds have dissipated. Lisa Crampton coordinator of the Kaua’i Forest Bird Recovery Project comments:
We wouldn’t be able to have a conversation…It was a much, much noisier forest, but in the last 10-15 years, many of our species are in 70 to 90 percent declines — that’s how fast the populations are collapsing.
Kaua’i’s native forests were once home to a variety of endemic Hawaiian honeycreepers that made the forest come to life with the sounds of their songs, but the introduction of invasive species, now compounded with climate change and habitat loss, is altering Hawai’I’s soundscape. Predation by invasive feral cats and rats has diminished populations of many native Hawaiian species. Now, invasive mosquitoes too are increasing the risk of extinction by introducing avian diseases to these bird populations.