Rare songbird’s numbers continue to go down, only about 1,200 left

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September 21, 2010 – Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Video by David Corrigan | Voice of Tim Bryan

A massive drop in the population of the endangered palila bird is being reported by state and federal organizations.

A recent count conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the palila population has dropped from 4,400 in 2003 to about 1,200 now. That amounts to a 75% decrease.

The palila is part of the honeycreeper family and lives on the slopes of Mauna Kea, where seeds and caterpillars from mamane trees comprise the bird’s main diet.

However, goats and mouflon sheep – as well as the drought – have taken its toll on the mamane forests. Feral cats in the area also pose a constant threat.

The government plans to build a 59-mile long, six-foot high fence to surround the Palila Critical Habitat on Mauna Kea to keep predators out of the area.

This video featured shows the palila count that was conducted early this year. Biologists Paul Banko from US Geological Survey and Dave Leonard of Hawai`i State Fish and Wildlife guided our camera lens in the right direction to spot the rare songbird.

The footage was filmed in partnership with Laurie Sumiye, the producer behind the Palila Project. More on that effort here: palilaproject.wordpress.com