In a recent DLNR Press release (below) and news conference (video below), experts discuss the extinction crisis faced by some of Hawai’i’s rarest forest birds. A report was presented to decision makers offering a selection of actions to address the current crisis. Also included in the report are conservation strategies for other species. Experts warn that if no action is taken four species of forest birds would face extinction within 1-10 years and as many as 11 additional extinctions would occur in the next decade.
Extinction is one of those things that happens very slowly at first, and then all of a sudden a species is gone forever.
In a recent article in Audubon Magazine titled, Mosquitoes to the Rescue! The Last-Ditch Effort to Save Kaua’i’s Endangered Birds, author Lorraine Boissoneault covers the use of a bacteria to reduce mosquito populations.
In a recent story in the Garden Island Newspaper, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has moved to declare four Kaua‘i forest birds extinct. The birds are among 23 plants and animals nationally, including nine from Hawai‘i, that are slated for removal from the endangered-species list due to lack of evidence indicating their survival. None of the listed Kaua‘i birds have been observed for decades.
It is a very sad time for Kauaʻi, who has lost the following species: the Kaua‘i ‘akialoa (Akialoa stejnegeri), not seen since 1960s; the Kaua‘i nukupu‘u (Hemignathus hanapepe), not seen since 1899; the Kaua‘i ‘o‘o (Moho braccatus), last observed in 1987; and the kama‘o (Myadestes myadestinus), also see for the last time in 1987.
In the absence of any natural defenses, Hawaiʻi’s forest birds are particularly susceptible to mosquito-borne diseases. The transmission of these diseases is being exacerbated by climate change, which may be responsible for increasing the range of non-native pests like mosquitos and giving the forest birds an unfair disadvantage for survival. In fact, many of Kauaʻi’s forest bird species are rapidly declining and scientists are scrambling to implement practices to preserve the populations that remain.
You can read the full story in the Garden Island Newspaper.
In a recent ABA podcast, Nate Swink covered an inspiring story of the discovery of a long thought dead Kiwikiu alive and well in a reforested area of the Nakula Natural Area Reserve on Maui. The story shows just how resilient nature can be and offers hope for a species facing potential extinction. You can read more about this remarkable story in the Maui News.
This uplifting story is followed by an interview of KFBRP’s leader, Lisa “Cali” Crampton, who discusses everything from how she came to KFBRP, to populations trends in Kauai’s forest birds, to the threats that the birds face, possible solutions to those threats, and the important role that forest birds play in the overall health of the forest. You can listen to the podcast on the American Birding Association Website.
KCC Performing Arts Center filled to capacity during Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds
A performance of the Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds at the Kaua‘i Community College (KCC) brought many audience members to tears on Sunday. The standing-room-only concert showcased original music written to celebrate the native forest birds of the Hawaiian Islands. In one piece, a flautist imitated the haunting call of the now extinct Kaua‘i ‘ō‘ō, provoking a powerful emotional response. The concert was also a call to action, with Dr. Lisa “Cali” Crampton of the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project letting audience members know how they can make a difference for native wildlife.
The one-of-a-kind work was performed by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Wind Ensemble led by Dr. Jeffrey Boeckman. This innovative project brings together music, art, animation, and science created by Hawai‘i-based composers, artists, scientists, and educators. This performance marked the first time the Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds has been performed on Kaua‘i, where many of the endangered bird species highlighted in the program reside. The first half of the program included a performance by the KCC Wind Symphony led by Sarah Tochiki, who later conducted a joint finale of the two ensembles. A hula performed by the UH Mānoa students also featured.
Dr. Lisa “Cali” Crampton said, “All of the organizers and performers put in a huge amount of effort to bring the show to Kaua‘i and I was so moved by the audience’s response. Our birds are facing some very serious threats, but this event highlighted how supportive local people are of our conservation efforts. It gives me a lot of hope that we can avoid any more bird extinctions on Kaua‘i.” In her speech, Crampton noted that Kaua‘i residents can make a difference to forest bird conservation through donations for the purchase of specialized rat traps; keeping cats indoors and not feeding feral cat colonies on the landscape; and ensuring they have no standing water around their properties where mosquitos can breed (these invasive pests spread lethal avian malaria to birds).
Informational booths by the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project, Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee, Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, Friends of Kaua‘i Wildlife Refuges and Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture were well attended and gave people insights about ongoing conservation measures and challenges for native forest birds, waterbirds, seabirds and plants on Kaua‘i.
Also on display were tissue paper replicas of King Kaumuali‘i’s ‘ahu‘ula (feather capes), meticulously created over three years by Sheri Majewski’s 5th grade classes at ‘Ele‘ele Elementary School (now on show at the Kaua’i Community College library). Fundraising efforts included a large art silent auction supported by local businesses and the opportunity to sponsor a Goodnature rat trap to further control the rodent population in the core breeding habitat of Kaua’is native forest birds; the efforts raised over $8000 for conservation.
Two additional performances of the concert by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Wind Ensemble were held on February 24th with over 1,000 Kaua‘i students grades 4-12 attending from Kekaha to Kilauea. Students prepared for the concert with a Kaua‘i-specific curriculum at https://kauaiforestbirds.org/tools-for-teachers/. Kaua’i student artwork entered in the “Mālama Hawaiian Forest Birds” art contest was displayed on the screen during the concerts
The Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds premiered in 2018 with the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra in Honolulu, and recently was showcased by the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City. The work will also be performed by the UH Wind Ensemble in the Pacific Northwest later this spring, at which point it will have been heard by over 30,000 audience members since its first performance.
This event was made possible through a collaboration between the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Wind Ensemble, the KCC Wind Symphony at the KCC Performing Arts Center, the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project, and Garden Island Resource Conservation and Development Inc. The event is co-sponsored by the Kaua’i Community College, Kaua‘i Office of Economic Development and Corteva Agrisciences.