Help For Our Fine Feathered Friends

It’s that time of year again when endangered native Hawaiian seabirds make their first journey to the sea. Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative is asking residents and visitors to not only be mindful of light usage through Dec. 15, but also to help any downed birds by bringing them to fire stations across the island, where Save Our Shearwaters team members will pick them up and rehabilitate them for re-release. The fledglings often are distracted by bright lights, confusing them with the moon, which naturally guides them to the ocean. They also are caught off-guard by power lines and other modern-day obstacles.

Please assist them by keeping a ventilated box and towel in your car and, if a downed bird is discovered, carefully cover its head, back and wings with the towel and gently place it in the container. Bring it to any of the following aid stations: Waimea, Hanapepe and Kalaheo fire stations (Westside); Koloa fire station (South Shore); Lihue, Kapaa and Kaiakea fire stations (East); Hanalei fire station (North Shore). Kaua’i Humane Society, Kilauea Medical Group and Hanalei Liquor Store also will take in birds …

I was reminded just how fragile Kaua’i’s native seabirds are and how much human activity has impacted their lives when I received the recent news about the decimation of a large colony of uau kani (wedge-tailed shear-waters) on the South Shore. In July and August, more than 80 seabirds (many actively breeding) were found slaughtered near their nesting areas – injuries indicate dogs and cats as the culprits. “It appears that the entire colony in this area has been severely depleted and it is likely that very few breeding birds now remain,” says Thomas Kaiakapu, Kaua’i wildlife manager for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

People are reminded to keep their dogs on leashes and their cats indoors for the safety of the native species.

“While this large kill of shearwaters is particularly alarming, we unfortunately get reports of mass kills of this species every year on the island,” says Kaiakapu. “As these birds breed in dense colonies along the coast, they are particularly vulnerable to dogs that have been let off of their leashes or feral cat colonies located near the breeding areas.”

By the way, the shearwater photos here are provided courtesy of Mutual Publishing in Honolulu, which just released Douglas Pratt’s new book, A Pocket Guide to Hawaii’s Birds And Their Habitats. It is a definitive look at the birds of the 50th state, endemic and introduced …

Speaking of books, Pamela Varma Brown, author of Kaua’i Stories, is inviting people to talk story with Keala Kai and Dennis Chun, who will discuss their experiences aboard the Hokule’a Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Kaua’i Museum courtyard. Chun is one of the island’s original crew members and is currently a professor of Hawaiian studies and culture at Kaua’i Community College.

“I first sailed Hoku in 1976. I was a young squirt, just a crew guy, whatever needed to be done,” he says.

Kai joined the Hokule’a crew in 2005, and the adventure inspired him to begin a career as a canoe sketch artist and to create his own clothing line.

For more information, call Brown at 651-3533 or email pam@kauaistories.net …

Author Rhaya Celestyne will sign copies of her new book, Going Nuts in Kaua’i. The story is a spiritually romantic fiction tale with a touch of humor. Join her Friday at Talk Story Bookstore in Hanapepe from 5:30 to 8 p.m., or Saturday from 8 to 9 p.m. at Blue House Booksellers in the Kapaa Dragon Building …

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