Home Biologist Biologists move endangered Hawaiian creeper to Kauai in attempt to save species

Biologists move endangered Hawaiian creeper to Kauai in attempt to save species

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After days of searching, a team of wildlife biologists trying to find an endangered Hawaiian creeper family in the Kauai rainforest managed to locate a chick.

The 6-month-old Akikiki chick – nicknamed Erica for now – was flown by helicopter Sunday to the Maui Bird Conservation Center run by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

There, it will go through a 30-day quarantine, then eventually join some forty others who hatched in the center from eggs collected in the forest.

The team had been camping in the Halehaha area of ​​Alakai Nature Reserve in Kauai for 10 days, trying to find and rescue what they believe to be the last remaining Akikiki in the area.

They believe the last survivors are a family of four, including a breeding pair and their two chicks, plus possibly another bird.

Akikiki, or Oreomystis bairdi, are very small, pale gray and white, and are only found on Kauai.

They are on the brink of extinction, experts say, as rising temperatures due to climate change are pushing invasive mosquitoes – and avian malaria – to higher altitudes in the forests where they live.

At the Maui Bird Conservation Center, veterinarian Deena Brenner gave the chick a thorough examination upon arrival and said that overall she looked healthy and healthy. The chick was given fluids to help with mild dehydration.

“It was a big day for this little bird,” she said.

The number of akikiki in the forest has plummeted in a decade, bird experts say, and could disappear in less than two years without “landscape-scale control of disease-carrying mosquitoes.” Experts have estimated that there are fewer than 100 – and probably less than 50 – akikiki left in Kauai.

Cali Cramptom of the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project noted that in 2018 there were nests everywhere compared to this year where only one breeding pair was found.

“I was hoping we weren’t here,” Crampton, who heads the search and rescue mission, said in a statement. “I also know we were hopeful when we started the conservation breeding flock with the egg collections. We wanted to set up mosquito control before they invade here. Unfortunately, we are running out of time for this particular species and this particular field site. “

The transfer plan has been approved at state and federal levels as part of an emergency effort to prevent the extinction of the akikiki, officials said.

Biologists plan to eventually release the bird into the forest when efforts to reduce its mosquito population are complete, but that could take several years.