The 20 Hawaiian Petrel chicks that were transferred to their new home at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge Monday were tucked, fluffy and healthy in the their new manmade burrows in an effort that was documented for the first time using social media.
“Lindsay Young, project director for Pacific Rim Conservation has come up with an exciting way to be involved in the translocation — watching it live on Facebook,” said Jennifer Waipa, supervisory park ranger for Kauai National Wildlife Refuge.
Things didn’t quite go according to plan on Monday. Due to weather, and a shifty cell signal, the actual documentation of the translocation made it to Facebook about 1 p.m. instead of the anticipated 9:30 a.m., but the footage is up on the pages of Pacific Rim Conservation and Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project.
One video shows the chicks’ landing at Princeville airport from the perspective of inside the helicopter. The second video shows members of PRC, KESRP, American Bird Conservancy and their partners processing the newest additions to the colony within the predator-proof fence.
The translocation is part of an ongoing project to create a colony of Hawaiian petrels and a colony of Newell’s shearwaters in a place safe from predators in order to boost numbers of the two species. Other ground nesting birds are expected to find the Nihoku predator-proof enclosure as well.
“All the plants around here are natives, so it’s a habitat restoration project as well as a project with seabirds,” said Andre Raine, of KESRP on Monday’s video while he took footage of one chick being transferred to its new home.
The burrows have easy-access lids so the chicks can be taken out daily and fed, and they’re painted white to keep the temperature down inside the burrows.
This is the second round of translocating Hawaiian petrel chicks from their mountain homes to their new burrows. Once these chicks leave their burrows, they will imprint on the area and fledge. They’ll return three-to-five years later to mate and have an egg of their own.
The team is doing the same thing with Newell’s shearwaters, and Sunday night the last of the eight chicks that have been living at Nihoku fledged.
The first round of Hawaiian petrels happened in November, when 10 fuzzy endangered chicks were flown into the refuge. This time twice the number of chicks have been translocated and the team is optimistic that all will fledge.