(BIVN) – The endangered ʻuaʻu has been found on Mauna Kea, after the rare seabird was not seen on the mountain for half a century.
During the 46th annual meeting of the Pacific Seabird Group on Kauaʻi, Bret Nainoa Mossman with the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo presented the first documentation of the ʻuaʻu, or Pterodroma sandwichensis, on Mauna Kea since 1963.
From a synopsis of Mossman’s presentation:
Seabirds have experienced global declines around the world and many have been pushed to the brink of extinction. In Hawaiʻi, the ʻuaʻu (Pterodroma sandwichensis) has declined dramatically since the arrival of humans in the islands. Once distributed across the archipelago, ʻuaʻu now only remain in a few isolated populations and number in the low thousands. Historically breeding populations of these birds persisted on Maunakea as late as 1953 but no records of the birds on the mountain have been reported since 1963. To locate possible remnant populations of ʻuaʻu we used a truck mounted radar to identify areas with possible bird activity and placed an array of acoustic recorders in likely locations to pick up vocalizations. Radar was largely carried out in the summer and fall of 2017 and acoustic monitoring was completed in spring and summer 2018. From April to September 2018, ʻuaʻu were detected at three different locations on Maunakea. Calls were detected on several different nights from June through August at one location indicating the possible presence of breeding individuals.
The synopsis says “more on the ground surveying is needed to identify if remnant populations of ʻuaʻu persist on Maunakea but this study has provided promising evidence that the birds have either persisted or recolonized through a 60-year absence.”