Thursday, 6 September 2012

Expedition Captures 26 Rare Millerbirds, Releases Them Safely At New Home On Remote Hawaiian Island


The second phase of an ambitious and historic effort to save one of the United States’ rarest bird species from extinction reached another milestone as a group of 26 Millerbirds captured on Nihoa Island was released by biologists on the northwestern Hawaiian island of Laysan, some 650 miles away.
This second such translocation took place between August 12 and August 18, and was carried out by a team of biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), American Bird Conservancy (ABC), and other organizations as part of a multi-year effort to restore Millerbirds to Laysan Island within the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and World Heritage site.
Millerbirds have been absent from Laysan for almost a century as a result of habitat destruction due to introduced rabbits and other livestock. The last of these animals was removed from Laysan in the early 20th Century. FWS has been working to restore Laysan’s native vegetation for more than two decades. A self-sustaining Millerbird population on Laysan will ensure that the species is no longer vulnerable to extinction from a catastrophic event on Nihoa such as a hurricane or the accidental introduction of an alien predator or disease.
Last year, in the highly successful first phase of the translocation effort, 24 Millerbirds were moved from Nihoa to Laysan. Since their September 10, 2011, release this pioneer group of birds has survived and thrived, producing 17 young. The birds that are part of the second translocation also were captured on Nihoa and transported on a three-day boat trip to Laysan.


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