This Bird-Napping Took 30 Years to Plan, But It Just May Save Some Lives
Last week 10 endangered Hawaiian Petrel chicks were transported from Kauai’s north shore to a new colony at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. The adorably fluffy babies are currently getting settled into their new homes, where they are being diligently cared for until they are old enough to leave their nests.
The relocation was 30 years in the making, and the process required more than a dozen individuals, comprising three separate teams. The teams were released, via helicopter, into mountains, within the Hono O Na Pali Natural Area Reserve. The nest burrows were monitored throughout the breeding season and held 10 healthy chicks, which were all removed and transferred to the refuge in carefully secured pet carriers.
The seabirds arrived safely in their new home, where biologists immediately checked them for medical issues. While they are too young to care for themselves, they will be hand-fed as their growth is continuously monitored. Once old enough, the Petrels will fly out to sea where they will remain for 3 to 5 years before returning to their home at the refuge.
The new colony features nesting boxes designed to mimic the chick’s natural nests, with hopes of minimizing disruption, and is surrounded by a predator-proof fence. The Petrels will benefit from the protection offered by the refuge, as a main threat to the species has been the introduction of invasive predators, such as dogs, cats, pigs, and rats. It is the hope of the biologists, who rescued the chicks and continue to care for them, to revitalize the species so that these beautiful birds will be around for generations to come.