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Nesting Area for Endangered Seabird Found on Big Island

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

An endangered seabird is nesting 7,000 feet above sea level on the slopes of Mauna Loa on the Big Island.

The band-rumped storm-petrel is a small nocturnal seabird that spends a majority of its time at sea. And although they can be found on islands in the Atlantic and Pacific – not a lot is known about Hawaii’s unique and endangered population.

For years, scientists have speculated there was a nesting site on Kauai because of the presence of juvenile petrels around the island's coast.

But researchers have recently confirmed two active nesting sites within the Pohakuloa Training Area…the only known site for the bird in the state.

Lena Schnell is the Program Manager for PTA’s Natural Resources Office.

She says her office was originally trying to find a colony for Hawaiian petrels using audio monitoring. But they instead picked up the calls of the band-rumped storm-petrels.

Since then, her office have had to use a variety of techniques to find the nesting areas because of the difficulty of finding the birds—which nest underground.

Schnell says her office is partnering with the state Department of Land Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife to remove feral cats in the area.

She adds that knowing where these birds nest will help researchers better understand their life and how to protect them.

You can hear the calls of the band-rumped storm-petrel below:

Courtesy of Lena Schnell
Courtesy of Lena Schnell

Casey Harlow was an HPR reporter and occasionally filled in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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