Felled bird numbers dropping

LIHUE — The number of falling endangered seabirds has slowed.

A Save Our Shearwaters organizer said only two birds have fallen at Kokee Air Force station since early last week — a big drop off from the 126 reported felled from mid-August to mid-September.

Right now, three birds are under care at the Kauai Humane Society, where SOS rehabs injured birds. Two of those fell in Kokee.

“It’s been slow,” said Tracy Anderson, SOS program coordinator, on Tuesday. “So that’s been good.”

The U.S. Air Force recently issued a blackout around the 10-acre Kokee Air Force Station that runs through Friday.

The 647th Security Forces Squadron and the PACAF Regional Support Center commanders are discussing an extension.

“The implementation of a blackout protocol has appeared to result in less attraction,” Anastasia Wasem, spokeswoman for the U.S. Air Force stationed in Alaska, wrote in an email. “No birds were reported on the ground at the site this past weekend.”

The two downed birds at Kokee bring the total to 128. Ten have died.

The majority of the injured or killed are Newell’s shearwaters, although Hawaiian petrels have also been affected.

Agencies are investigating the cause of the lighting problem. They believe it to be the result of lights not pointing to the ground. They said previously it’s possible storms could have knocked some of the lights out of position.

Shearwaters fly over land at night and can become distracted by lights, causing them to hit manmade objects or fly until exhaustion.

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