Kauaʻi’s endangered seabirds face a number of threats, including introduced predators, loss of breeding habitat, habitat modification from invasive plants or introduced ungulates, light attraction and collision with powerlines. These are leading to the catastrophic declines we are currently seeing today. So what can be done about this? There are a number of large-scale measures now underway through organizations such as the Kauaʻi Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, but there are also many ways that you yourself can help too.
Turning lights out...
During the fledging season (which spans late September to early December), newly fledged birds are attracted to artificial light sources. This issue is particularly exacerbated during periods when the nights are dark (i.e. when there is a new moon, or heavy cloud cover). Turning unnecessary lights out during this period, using lower intensity light bulbs and shielding outside lights are all simple ways of reducing this impact. And it saves money too!
Save Our Shearwaters!
During the peak fall-out period, the Save Our Shearwaters project operates out of the Kauaʻi Humane Society. Aid stations are set up around the island at fire stations and other locales to facilitate the collection of birds. Be vigilant during this period for downed birds, particularly around bright light sources in areas like Waimea, Kekaha, Hanapepe, Eleʻele, Port Allen, Lihue, Kapaʻa and Hanalei. If you find a downed bird, collect it and take it to an aid station. SOS will do the rest! If these downed birds are not collected then they will either die of starvation, exposure, or predation, so please make sure you pick them up and deliver them to safety. For more information on the SOS project, as well as exact locations of aid stations, check out their website at: http://kauaihumane.org/services/saveourshearwaters
If you want to pass on information to us about the location of downed birds, or areas where you have found downed birds in the past, feel free to drop us a line as well on our ‘Contact Us’ page.
Keep cats indoors
Cats can cause significant damage to breeding colonies of endangered seabirds, and a single cat can quickly kill off multiple breeding adults in a short period of time causing long-term damage to the breeding population. Keeping pet cats indoors, removing feral cat populations and, where this is not possible, neutering feral cats to prevent them breeding are all ways to reduce this pressure.
Prevent other introduced predators arriving
The arrival of the mongoose on other Hawaiian islands has been devastating to native breeding birds, and the fact that they have yet to establish on Kauaʻi is part of the reason why the island is still a haven for rare endemics. Unfortunately, this may be about to change. In May and then July of 2012, two mongoose were captured on the island of Kauai by members of the Kauai Invasive Species Committee (KISC) and since that point an on-going control program has been operational to attempt to prevent the species from becoming established on the island. Being vigilant to the appearance of new introduced predators like the mongoose, or species of snakes for example, is therefore critical. Have a look at KISCs website (http://www.hawaiiinvasivespecies.org/iscs/kisc/) to see what you can do when you spot an invasive species, and if you see a mongoose in particular please report it immediately on (808) 821 1490.
Lastly, make sure that you don’t bring anything harmful back with you when you come back from overseas - invasive weeds, invertebrates and other pests can have a devistating impact on fragile island ecosystems, so preventing them from getting here in the first place is the easiest solution.
Photo of one of the two mongoose caught by KISC on Kaua'i in 2012. Photo credit : KISC (www.kauaiisc.org/mongoose)