Check out what’s going on currently in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and the efforts there to save some of our endangered species! Marine Conservation Institute was a strong advocate of the designation of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and we continue to support efforts to protect the resources there.
Naturalists have moved a tiny colony of 24 Hawaiian songbirds to an island 650 miles away in hopes of protecting the critically endangered species from extinction by a stray hurricane or other catastrophe.
Naturalists released the Nihoa Millerbirds on Laysan Island in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii on September 10. A closely related subspecies went extinct on Laysan about a century ago.
The tiny Millerbird weighs less than an ounce. A lively brown songbird, it eats insects it finds in low bushes and bunch-grasses. On Laysan it joins other endangered species, including the Laysan Finch, Laysan Duck and the Hawaiian monk seal.
The project “will reduce the chances that catastrophic events such as hurricanes or the introduction of invasive predators will extirpate the species, since there will be independent populations of Millerbirds on two islands, 650 miles apart,” said Loyal Mehrhoff, Field Supervisor for the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office.
“It is thrilling to see Millerbirds back on Laysan once more, not simply because they have been a missing piece of the island’s native ecosystem for so long, but also because this marks a potential turning point in the recovery of the species,” George Wallace, the American Bird Conservancy’s vice president for Oceans and Islands.
Since being taken to their new island home, several of the Millerbirds have been sighted and “all are looking healthy and behaving normally – a very encouraging sign for the future,” Wallace says.
Biologists will remain on Laysan for the next year to monitor the birds’ movements and behaviors, including, the team hopes, their first nesting attempts.
Laysan, at 1,023 acres, is the second largest of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It is located in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, approximately 790 miles northwest of Honolulu. It is one of America’s newest national monuments, having been created in 2006 by President George W. Bush.