Maui on lookout for lost birds
WAILUKU » An annual vigil has begun on Maui to look out for grounded young seabirds who lose their way flying from their nesting grounds on Haleakala to the ocean.
The young birds seem to become lost especially on dark nights, when urban lights disorient them, scientists said.
Haleakala National Park biologist Cathleen Natividad Bailey said none has been found so far this fall season, but people did find about 19 disoriented birds last October and November.
Bailey said a man was jogging last year along Wailea Alanui Drive in South Maui when he heard a bird in the bushes.
It was an endangered 'ua'u that had apparently been bitten by a cat.
Bailey said the jogger, Mark Hyde, picked up the bird and called state wildlife officials.
"Because of his call, the bird survived. We were able to give it medication and a little rehabilitation," Bailey said.
"We released it in a little less than two weeks."
The 'ua'u, estimated to number 2,000 in the Hawaiian Islands, is the state's only endangered seabird.
It dwells at about 8,000 feet elevation or higher on Haleakala, where there are fewer mongooses and feral cats.
The bird is black and white, with black webbed feet and a wingspan of about 3 feet.
Bailey said that because of their short legs, the 'ua'u have difficulty taking off and require wind or a slope.
The 'ua'u kani, or wedge-tailed shearwaters, are similar, gray-and-white seabirds that can be an inch or so larger. They are more plentiful than the Hawaiian petrels but can suffer the same disorientation and grounding.
Anyone finding a grounded seabird is asked to protect it from hazards such as cars, dogs and cats, and place it in a covered, well-ventilated cardboard box in a shaded place.
Park biologists said not to give it food or water and to be careful when handling the bird because it might bite.
A towel or leather glove can be used to pick up the bird, Bailey said.
She asked that anyone finding a grounded seabird call the National Park Service on Maui, 264-5317, state forestry, 984-8100, or the Maui Humane Society, 877-3680.