Endangered Hawaiian Seabird Affected by Lighting

Each fall, the keiki (babies) of Kauai’s endangered Newell’s shearwater and Hawaiian petrel birds fly out to sea for the first time in their lives; they use the moonlight as a guide, but en route to the ocean, the birds cross land with bright lights. The keiki are attracted to the lights and fly around them in circles until they are exhausted or until the lights are turned off. This is increasingly becoming a problem as the island becomes more populated.

Hawaii is asking its residents to help save the birds, and the task goes beyond rescuing the injured babies. Turning off unnecessary lights and using seabird-safe lighting fixtures are a couple of options the state has suggested. On its Web site, Hawaii gives examples of such lights: recessed can lights with baffles, glare-buster lights, canister downlights and eyelid step lights, among others.

Hawaii has many shearwater aid stations around the island of Kauai. Each fire station is equipped to handle the downed birds, and Hawaii also offers instructions for handling the downed birds. They are docile, but they are delicate and require special attention when they are injured.

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC), the island’s electricity provider, has officially endorsed the lighting

recommendations of the Save Our Shearwater organization, a group dedicated to saving the endangered species. KIUC has urged its customers to contribute to the effort and has pointed out they will, in turn, save energy, money and decrease the main cause of mortality and injury to the birds.     EC



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