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Maui bird enclosures aim to mitigate wind turbine impact

Boston-based First Wind, which operates the Maui’s largest wind energy project, has unveiled the first of two bird enclosures on the island designed to mitigate bird deaths and loss of habitat resulting from the company’s wind turbines.

The Makamakaole seabird mitigation project located 10 miles west of Wailuku was designed in collaboration with experts in Pacific seabird conservation, according to First Wind.

The nearly completed bird enclosure is designed to protect the federally endangered Newell’s Shearwater. Construction is underway on a second enclosure designed for the Hawaiian Petrel. The shearwater enclosure includes barriers intended to keep out non-native predators such as rats, mongoose and cats. Artificial burrows, custom decoys and sound systems broadcasting bird calls are being installed to attract shearwaters and petrels to nest.

First Wind operates the 51-megawatt Kaheawa Wind project about 15 miles away on a ridge above Maalaea.

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