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Restoration project uses artificial sounds to lure seabirds back to Kauaʻi's remote coast

Nualolo Kai
André Raine
Archipelago Research and Conservation LLC
The Nuʻalolo Kai valley on Nāpali Coast on Kauaʻi used to be home to a fishing village and an abundance of seabirds.

The Division of State Parks, nonprofits and private companies have joined forces to restore native seabirds back to the Nāpali Coast of Kauaʻi.

The project is currently focused in Nuʻalolo Kai, a remote valley on the northwestern coastline. The valley was home to a fishing village and a nesting ground for seabirds from the 12th to the 20th centuries.

 The ‘akē‘akē, or band-rumped storm petrel, is the smallest and rarest seabird that breeds in Hawai‘i.
Jacob Drucker
The ‘akē‘akē, or band-rumped storm petrel, is the smallest and rarest seabird that breeds in Hawai‘i.

The populations of ‘ake’ake, the band-rumped storm petrel, and ‘ou, the Bulwer’s petrel, have declined by 75% since the 1970s. Additionally, the population of ‘a’o, also known as Newell’s Shearwater, has declined by 95%.

The introduction of non-native animals is largely to blame, according to Helen Raine, the executive director of Archipelago Research and Conservation. She explained that the birds had no natural predators prior to Western contact.

The Nāpali seabird restoration project uses artificial bird calls to lure the birds to a safe location. That’s where they will find premade nests.

"You can imagine if you're a sea bird, digging a burrow in the mountains is pretty hard — you've got your feet, you've got your beak. But it takes a long time. It can take them sometimes several years to get a really decent burrow going," Raine explained.

"If they get drawn in by an artificial sound system and then they find this fantastic burrow all ready to go, that saves them a lot of time. And it's hopefully going to be a nice house that they can set up in and succeed breeding earlier than they might have otherwise done if they'd had to dig their own burrow," she said.

The project will also work to eliminate invasive plants and animals from Nuʻalolo Kai.

For more information, click here.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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