Sorry, readers! I realize that I haven't posted anything since March 16, and I'm sorry for that. I'm sick right now, and have been very busy. I hope to resume a regular posting schedule in early April. Thanks for being so patient, and don't forget to comment on my What Bird Wednesday!
Hi, readers! I apologize for not getting a post out sooner. I've had computer problems lately, but I don't have to worry about those anymore because I got an iPad!
So here is my first post from my new iPad. Last post's bird was a Lincoln's Sparrow, which nobody guessed! BirdBoy was the closest, however, with his guess of a Harris's Sparrow. This week's is a text description. Who can guess it? Remember, a new What Bird Wednesday won't be posted until I get at least 2 guesses on this one.
Can you get this week's bird? Post your guess in the comments below!
Other What Bird Wednesday posts:
Birds in Your Backyard
Hawaii is a beautiful place. It has beaches, cities, mountains, and everything in between: including birds. But Hawaii's birds aren't always what they seem. Many of them were brought from other countries in the 19th and 20th centuries as pets, or sometimes to control pests. More than 50 nonnative bird species have now established populations on the islands. Some of them have a negative impact on native bird species, like this introduced Red-billed Leiothrix.
This seemingly beautiful bird arrived in Hawaii in the early 20th century, and it since has established a population. Their native range is in the Himalayas, from Nepal and northern India to southern China and Myanmar. They are popular cage birds and were brought to Hawaii as pets. Hawaii is one of the only places in the world where they have an established, introduced population. They pose a threat to native species because they compete for food, carry avian malaria, and spread nonnative plant seeds.
Now let's take a look at another introduced, and possibly more harmful, species: the Common Myna.
Common Mynas were brought to Hawaii in 1866 to control an agricultural pest called the cutworm moth. Mynas are native to India, the Himalayas, and the Middle East. They quickly spread throughout the main islands and now pose a threat to native species. They have been described as noisy and quarrelsome, and spread invasive weeds, prey on seabird nests, and compete with native 'O'os for nest cavities. They have even been accused of setting buildings on fire with lighted cigarettes!
There are many other invasive species that have a negative impact on native Hawaiian birds. But they aren't the only thing posing a threat to Hawaiian birds...
In the fall of 2015, a nest camera recorded a horrible scene. A feral cat extracted an adult shearwater and its chick from their almost inaccessible mountain home and killed both birds.
Newell's Shearwaters, known in Hawaiian as ‘A‘o, are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This bird spends much of its life at sea and returns to land to breed in burrows on forested mountain slopes. They are rare birds that lay only one egg per year. Predation by cats could have a disastrous impact on them.
The Newell's Shearwater as well as other birds such as the endangered Palila, Hawaiian Coot, and Hawaiian Petrel are attacked and eaten by cats. This is known by remains as well as footage from nest cameras.
In last year alone, officials at the Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex discovered that cats had killed at least 237 endangered birds, including Hawaiian Common Gallinule, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Black-necked Stilt, and Hawaiian Duck. The officials also reported that over the course of just 3 weeks, feral cats killed 22 Laysan Albatross chicks.
This is a problem created entirely by us humans. Europeans first brought cats to Hawaii, and the animals have spread throughout the main Hawaiian islands. Hawaii's birds have paid the price.
Cats are instinctively fierce hunters. This is a big problem not just in Hawaii, but in islands around the world. A 2011 study reviewed the impact of cats on island birds around the world, and their conclusion is this: cats have contributed to the extinction of 33 species and are threats to critically endangered birds, mammals, and reptiles. The 2014 State of the Birds report also identified cats as 'the top source of direct, human-related mortality to birds' in the United States and Canada.
Nowhere is unchecked predation by cats more evident than in Hawaii. The islands had no native land mammals other than a bat and a seal before Polynesians and Europeans brought pigs, rats, dogs, and cats. The islands' native birds have no defenses against these predators. Hawaii has earned its title 'The Bird Extinction Capital of the World', a title given to it by conservationists. 71 bird species have gone extinct in Hawaii. The islands have 44 remaining bird species or subspecies found nowhere else on Earth, but the survival of most of these are doubtful. 33 Hawaiian species and subspecies are listed under the Endangered Species Act, including 10 that have not been seen or heard in recent years and are likely extinct.
But wait! There is still hope for Hawaiian birds. On the island of Kauai, there are more promising signs of progress. Several conservation, animal welfare, and community groups participated in a task force led by the County of Kauai to determine how to confront the big problem. The task force's lead recommendation was for Kauai to become free of feral, abandoned, and stray cats within the next 10 years. The task force also recommended prohibiting the feeding of cats on any county property. The fact that so many groups on Kauai agreed on a solution is very encouraging. If all goes well, this could be the difference between staying alive and becoming extinct for Hawaiian birds. Predator-proof fences are also being built around key breeding areas, and in November, biologists moved 10 Hawaiian Petrels to a fenced enclosure in Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge to establish a new and protected colony. Later this year, scientists will move Newell's Shearwaters and more Hawaiian Petrels to the site. It's a big step forward for bird conservation!
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