Pacific Missile Range Facility Air Operations department, the PMRF Environmental Program and US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services enlisted volunteers for the annual PMRF Laysan albatross egg sweep on Saturday.
Once a year, volunteers with base access are invited to come out and participate in the biggest “egg hunt” on base. Nearly 30 employees and family members joined the effort.
The purpose of the annual Laysan albatross egg sweep is to conduct a thorough search of the base for active nests and albatrosses on or around the airfield. This allows the PMRF team to gather any eggs that may have been missed in daily sweeps.
“This annual effort is an important part of PMRF’s management of Laysan albatross as a Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard species,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Keech, PMRF air operations officer. “Because every albatross hatched at PMRF is likely to return here to nest for 60 or more years, the effort we make this season can go a long way toward reducing future BASH risk on the PMRF airfield and protecting both birds and pilots.”
When Laysan albatross eggs are found, whether in original sweeps or from the annual volunteer effort, they are then relocated into nests in more suitable habitat on the North Shore of Kauai or on Oahu.
To conduct the volunteer sweep, nest-searchers spread out at the start of the survey area and walk transects, combing the entire area for albatrosses sitting on a nest or eggs. Not for the faint of heart, this egg hunt can involve crawling in and out of thick vegetation, inspecting every brush line looking for nests that are often so buried they cannot be seen from the perimeter.
The work can be strenuous and sometimes tedious, and usually involves a lot of spider webs. Volunteers are combined into teams with one nest-searching expert to take the lead.
“This event is a great opportunity for the PMRF ‘ohana to learn about albatrosses and PMRF’s award-winning environmental program. We found no eggs today, this a testament to the sharp eyes and diligent efforts of the USDA Wildlife Services team throughout the breeding season,” said Brooke McFarland, PMRF natural resources manager.