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State to survey Kauai seabird populations

The state will begin its annual three-month seabird monitoring work on Kauai to help determine what is happening to the Newell’s Shearwaters and Hawaiian Petrels.

A radar truck of the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project will be out surveying at 18 different sites around Kauai until September

The annual seabird radar monitoring work coincides with the start of egg laying for both ‘A‘o (Newell’s Shearwaters) and Ua’u (Hawaiian Petrels) on Kauai.

Andre Raine, KESRP Project coordinator, said “These sites have been surveyed since 1993 and provide us with over 20 years of data, which we can then use to see how the birds have been faring over the years. Unfortunately, so far the data has shown a huge decline since the early 1990s.”

The two species of seabirds only fly back to their colonies at night, making it extremely hard for researchers to see and count them. Radar overcomes this issue by allowing the radar operator to “see” the birds flying overhead in the darkness as a series of dots passing across the radar screen.

The radar truck will mainly be operational for the first two hours after dark, to track the birds as they fly inland to their breeding colonies high in the mountains. Radar will also be operated for two hours before dawn, tracking the seabirds as they head back out to sea.

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