BY DEBORAH WARD – With notebooks and binoculars in hand, dozens of wildlife biologists and volunteers will take to Hawai‘i’s wetlands on Wednesday, August 18, for statewide bi-annual waterbird surveys.
Over 250 wetland sites where native and migratory waterbirds are known to gather, including marshes, reservoirs, golf course canals, prawn farms, sewage treatment plants, and even the Honolulu International Airport’s reef runway will be surveyed.
The waterbird surveys are organized by the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), with the cooperation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of Hawai‘i, and other partner organizations.
“We’ve been conducting waterbird surveys for over 30 years,” DLNR Chairperson Laura H. Thielen said. “The information gathered gives us important trend data for our endangered waterbirds, migrant waterfowl, and shorebirds, important insight on the status of different species statewide, and helps us to better manage our endangered waterbird populations,” she added.
O‘ahu sites that will be surveyed include Pouhala Marsh, Paiko Lagoon, Nu‘upia Ponds, the Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, and wetland associated areas where endangered Hawaiian moorhens, coots and stilts are found.
Survey participants will be on the lookout for waterbirds, including Hawaiian moorhens, coots, stilts, and ducks, that have been tagged with colored bands used to identify birds originating from different islands. It is hoped that such banding efforts will assist in monitoring the dispersal, behavior, survival, reproductive success, and population growth of Hawai‘i’s endangered waterbirds.
In 2009 several endangered Hawaiian Coots banded at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on O‘ahu were spotted at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge on Maui, a distance of over 100 miles.
Deborah Ward is the DLNR Public information specialist