Conservation efforts could return Lehua Island to the safe nesting habitat it once was for the Bulwer’s Petrel and many other native Hawaiian seabirds.
Soaring over the sea to nest on remote islands, the Bulwer’s Petrel is a seabird spread throughout the world, from the Azores Islands, Portugal to Lehua Island, Hawai’i. The small gray bird is known for the surprising noise it makes. Rather than a chirp or squawk like one may expect from a seabird, Bulwer’s Petrel chicks make a barking noise. The bark is similar to that of a small dog.
The Bulwer’s Petrel nests in crevices on islands throughout the world but spends most of its time at sea eating small fish. Like many seabirds, the Bulwer’s Petrel is loyal to its nesting site and will return yearly to the same location with the same mate.
Many Bulwer’s Petrel populations are threatened by invasive predators such as rats and feral cats. On Lehua Island the native bird is under severe predation pressures by invasive rats, which makes nesting for the barking birds unsafe.
This is a problem for many seabird species throughout the world in cases where invasive rodents have been introduced to islands and decimate native populations. Lehua Island is just south of Kaua’i and these native birds will soon have a fighting chance thanks to conservation efforts underway to remove invasive rodents.
Lehua Island offers ideal habitat for not only the Bulwer’s petrel but also the Endangered Newell’s Shearwater and the Vulnerable Hawaiian Petrel. Removing the invasive rodents is a crucial step in returning the island to its status as a safe seabird nesting ground.
There is hope that the Bulwer’s Petrels bark will ring through the air on Lehua following successful conservation intervention.
Featured Photo: A Bulwer’s Petrel soaring over the ocean. Credit: Peter R. Flood
International Union for the Conservation of Nature
- A Message of Hope for Endangered Island Wildlife - December 11, 2018
- Press Release: Historic Project to Protect Palau’s Iconic Species Declared Successful - December 11, 2018
- Island Conservation’s Board Resolution for the Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Rodents Partnership - December 6, 2018
- Wisdom and Akeakamai Return to Midway for Another Nesting Season - December 5, 2018
- Event: Biological Control and Invasive Species Management Workshop - November 28, 2018
- Island Conservation Joins the Global Island Partnership - November 20, 2018
- Global Island Partnership Presents The Wealth of Islands: Bright Spots in Island Implementation - November 15, 2018
- Open Letter: Research on Gene Drive Technology can Benefit Conservation and Public Health - November 14, 2018
- The Economist Features Island Conservation in “The Promise and Peril of Gene Drives” - November 13, 2018
- Reflecting on 25 Years of Impact and the Next Frontier of Island Restoration - November 13, 2018