May 2019 -
KACF Conservation Liaison, Stacy Johnson, is working in Hawaii on behalf of Katie Adamson Conservation Fund to work with the Pacific Rim Conservation organization on trans-locating Black Footed Albatross, Tristram's Storm Petrels and Bonin Petrals to a safe refuge on the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on Oahu. See Stacy's ongoing report below.
A Partnership in Hawaii
With the Pacific Rim Conservation Organization
May 1, 2019
An introduction to the Pacific Rim Conservation project: Pacific Rim Conservation (PRC) partners with several state, federal and private organizations to protect native species on the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii is the extinction capital of the world, due to introduced species, habitat loss and climate change.
During my stay, I will be helping on projects with black-footed albatross, Tristram's storm petrels and Bonin petrels. Chicks are translocated from unsafe areas (due to rising ocean levels and/or introduced predators) to a safe location in James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on Oahu.
Here, birds are raised within a predator-proof fence and away from human activity. Once the birds fledge (leave their nesting area), they will not return again for 2-4 years. Hopefully, they return to this "safe zone", as seabirds usually imprint to their nesting grounds, ensuring a safe future for these species to thrive.
Petrel Chicks from Midway Atoll
May 3, 2019
The PRC team just brought in 78 Bonin petrel chicks from Midway Atoll. Biologists on the island identified nests that are at great risk of failing due to storm surges. These nests were watched and chicks were assessed for health, and were then selected as great candidates to come to the James Campbell Wildlife Refuge. We spent a lot time prepping their artificial nesting burrows, where they will live for the next 30-50 days.
Bonin Petrel Chick photo courtesy of Pacific Rim Conservation.
Plastic & Trash: An Enormous Issue
May 5, 2019
The birds living at PRC are visually checked daily. On feeding days, the nesting burrows are thoroughly cleaned out. This is a Tristram's storm-petrel feed day. As you can see, staff member Sarah is pulling out plastic pieces that this chick passed which had been fed by its parents before arriving to PRC.
Plastic is an enormous issue, especially for seabirds. Many birds, and other species, are dying due to the amount of plastic in their stomachs and/or are getting wrapped up in plastic.
The last photo is from a walk I did this morning on a very remote area of Oahu. We all need to be better at reducing our plastic usage...our planet depends on it!
Feeding 137 Wild Birds
May 7, 2019
Preparing to feed 137 birds is no small feat and add to that a remote field location!
Just to feed the Bonin petrels and Tristram's storm petrels, it takes 3 full blenders of fish. Once you add on the black-footed albatross, it's up to 8 blenders! Food preparation takes several hours. Everything must remain sterile and blended twice to make sure the slurry is fine enough to go through the tubes smoothly. It then gets placed in coolers and trucked several miles to the birds' location. Feeds take 2-3 hours.
Each bird is examined, weighed, fed and re-weighed and their nesting area cleaned. As birds get older, they are leg banded and wing lengths recorded (this lets staff know when they are close to fledging). The birds are purposely not handled much to reduce their stress and to not allow them to get used to human contact. We want to see that they are not happy to see us...that is a great sign!
Below in the photos is the trailer PRC is based out of, a blender of fish and a Tristram's storm-petrel and Bonin petrel waiting to be fed.
A Dream Accomplished
May 8, 2019
Today is my last day with PRC. I came here desperately wanting to see and help albatross. Dream accomplished.
I am leaving here with a new love of petrels and wishing I could stay to see them all fledge. The PRC crew are some of the best and most dedicated people I have had the privilege of working with! I have gained lots of knowledge and found some amazing bird nerd friends. I greatly admire these birds, this project, this organization and mostly, all of the staff/volunteers I have met. A piece of my heart will remain on Oahu and on the wings of my feathered friends. Aloha and mahalo PRC!!
* Last photo (Tristram's storm-petrel courtesy of Pacific Rim Conservation)