Archive for the 'Hawaii Bird Project' Category

Island Conservation

Posted at 1:32 pm November 3, 2010 by Richard Switzer

Richard admires a Phillipine eagle. Photo credit: Philippine Eagle Foundation

In September, conservation practitioners and environmental educators from across the Philippines, as well as the Pacific island of Pohnpei, gathered to participate in the Island Species-Led Action (ISLA) course run by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which was held in association with Iligan Institute of Technology, Mindanao State University, Philippines. The 10-day course was designed to teach participants proven and practical approaches to manage endangered species and habitats on islands, thereby enhancing existing knowledge and expertise and ultimately developing the local skill base and resources for conservation measures and initiatives.

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New Homes for the Growing Flock

Posted at 10:56 am November 1, 2010 by Michelle Smith

Goodbye, old nene pens...

As previously reported, the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program has achieved notable success this year, increasing the `alala flock by 11 juveniles (see post, Record Breeding Season for ‘Alala)! With all these new youngsters cavorting around, and with further growth of the flock anticipated in future years, aviary space has become hot property. Consequently, construction of brand-new `alala aviaries began in late summer at the Maui Bird Conservation Center (MBCC). Each building will have six aviaries, and with a potential of four buildings being completed over this winter, we will increase our holding capacity significantly.

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Congresswoman Visits Bird Conservation Center

Posted at 12:09 pm October 19, 2010 by Jeremy Hodges

Jeremy shows Congresswoman Hirono a mural of native Hawaiian birds. Photo credit: Marvin Buenconsejo

On September 1, 2010, the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center was excited to welcome Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, Hawaii’s two-term representative to Congress. The congresswoman and her staff were on the Big Island to participate in the first-day-of-issue ceremony for the U.S. Postal Service’s Hawaiian Rain Forest stamp series.

Congresswoman Hirono and staff toured our breeding facility, including our aviaries holding the adult `alala, palila, Maui parrotbills, and puaiohi. (more…)

Record Breeding Season for `Alala

Posted at 12:20 pm October 14, 2010 by Richard Switzer

Youngsters develop social skills in the large juvenile aviary.

As the end of our program year draws to a close, we are able to reflect back on the breeding season for the birds of the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program. Most notable have been our achievements with the propagation of `alala. During 2010, we hatched 13 `alala chicks and raised 11 healthy youngsters (see `Alala Season: Encouraging Start). Unfortunately, one chick died very shortly after hatch, and another had to be euthanized due to congenital abnormalities. However, these totals represent a record for reproductive success since the inception of the `alala captive breeding program.

Just as exciting, our 11 young recruits bring the current population to a total of 77 known birds. In combination with the 8 youngsters raised in 2009, the `alala population has increased by 30 percent in 2 years. So we are definitely making progress toward species recovery for the `alala, whose entire population dropped to a low-point of approximately 20 birds in 1994.

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Honk if You Like Nene

Posted at 2:45 pm October 12, 2010 by Amy Kilshaw

A nene shows off its beautiful ruffled neck feathers, which are unique to this species.

On September 26, 2010, the Maui Bird Conservation Center (MBCC) hosted an open house to celebrate the 5th annual Nene Awareness Day in recognition of Hawaii’s endangered state bird, the nene or Hawaiian goose Branta sandvicensis. We welcomed over 150 visitors throughout the day who were treated to newly created educational displays, a tour around our recently refurbished nene pens (see post Nene: Movin’ On Up) and a presentation on the history of nene conservation over the last 100 years.

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Hatching Additions to `Alala Flock

Posted at 1:13 pm July 2, 2010 by Jeremy Hodges

These eight new alala chicks represent 10 percent of the world's population.

To me, one of the most exciting aspects of working with the San Diego Zoo’s Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program (HEBCP) is artificially incubating eggs. `Alala (or Hawaiian crow) eggs are incubated for approximately 22 days until they hatch (see Corvid Cupid). Once we pull an egg from the nest, we are able to monitor the embryo’s developmental progress by regularly candling the egg. Eventually, this enables us to identify the first step of the hatching process: the embryo’s beak pushing into the air cell. The air cell is the pocket of air at the top of the blunt end of the egg. With its beak in the air cell, the embryo’s lungs start to activate, which enables the blood to be drawn in from the vessels wrapped around the inside of the eggshell that had previously been used for gas exchange.

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Nene: Movin’ On Up

Posted at 3:22 pm June 18, 2010 by Sharon Belcher

MBCC staff release nene into their new home.

Red Rocket (#14) and NU (#30), our two oldest nene (or Hawaiian geese), have been around long enough to see plenty of changes. Both birds were hatched in the wild and came to live at the Maui Bird Conservation Center (MBCC) in 1987 and 1992 respectively. They were moved in 1996 from mosquito-proof buildings with concrete floors to outdoor pens with grass. Now they have brand-spanking-new pens, luxury suites of the nene world! Not only were the old pens past their use-by date, but they will soon be demolished to make space for new ‘alala (or Hawaiian crow) aviaries that will be constructed this fall (see Corvid Cupid).

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Corvid Cupid (part 2)

Posted at 11:54 am June 7, 2010 by Lisa Komarcyzk

Be sure to read Corvid Cupid (part 1).

In order to juggle the socializations of breeding pairs of ‘alala (Hawaiian crows), we closely monitor the nesting activity of every breeding pair through CCTV and analysis of digital video recordings. We mostly monitor two types of behavior:

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Corvid Cupid (part 1)

Posted at 9:46 am June 1, 2010 by Lisa Komarcyzk

Lisa watches Crow TV, monitoring the reproductive behavior of `alala at the nest.

As corvids, `alala (Hawaiian crows) have a wide range of complex behaviors, particularly when it comes to the art of courtship (see ‘Alala: We’re Getting Closer). Being so intelligent, each individual bird has its own personality, likes, and dislikes. This also applies to their interactions and relationships with birds of the opposite sex.

Now this may sound rather anthropomorphic, but in actual fact we soon learn to recognize the different behavioral patterns of individual birds, which helps to define them as individuals and as breeding pairs.

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10 Reasons for Hope

Posted at 4:16 pm May 20, 2010 by Suzanne Hall

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that the current extinction rate for species on our planet is more than 1,000 times the rate it would be naturally, thanks to human factors. Climate change is implicated in reductions to water availability in ecosystems and ice in the Arctic. These days you only have to turn on the television to have a front row seat for the environmental disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Everywhere you look, the news about the state of nature seems gloomy. (more…)