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Endangered Native Forest Birds Talk Wednesday

By Vanessa Wolf

Ornithologist Laura Berthold. Photo courtesy MFBRP.

Ornithologist Laura Berthold. Photo courtesy MFBRP.

September is Maui Forest Birds month at the Makawao Public Library.

This Wednesday night from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Laura Berthold, an ornithologist for Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project, will be giving a presentation on Maui’s native forest birds.

She will present information on the native Hawaiian honeycreepers and what the organization is doing to help them.

Per the Project’s website, Berthold began working for Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project as an AmeriCorps intern in January 2009.

Currently, she works on assisting and leading the Project’s field team with searching for Maui parrotbill nests and offspring.

Due to geographic isolation, Hawaii developed numerous species of birds found nowhere else on earth. However, Hawaiian flora and fauna have suffered massive extinctions since humans and introduced mammals arrived.

More forest birds have joined the extinction list fairly recently, according to the advocates. These include the O’u (Psittirostra psittacea), Bishops O’o (Moho bishopi), and the Maui form of the Olomao (Myadestes sp.). The Maui Akepa (Loxops coccineus ochraceus), the Maui Nukupuu (Hemignathus lucidus affinus), and the Po’ouli (Melamprosops phaeosoma) have not been seen in recent years and are possibly extinct.

The Maui Parrotbill. Photo courtesy MFBRP.

The Maui parrotbill. Photo courtesy MFBRP.

The Project focuses their efforts on the most critically endangered of the surviving Maui honeycreepers, the Maui parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophrys) and ‘Akohekohe or crested honeycreeper (Palmeria dolei).

These species and other forest birds such as the Alauahio or Maui Creeper (Paroreomyza montana) and I’iwi (Vestiaria coccinea) are declining on Maui for many reasons including: habitat loss, introduced predators and ungulates such a feral pigs, goats, sheep and cattle, and introduced avian diseases.

The Project says it combines habitat management with ornithological research to understand reasons for declines and to discover ways to help endangered forest bird species recover.

Among their practices, they employ conventional mist-netting, banding, and survey techniques to monitor wild forest bird populations. They also study breeding success in the wild, aim to effectively manage and reduce the impact of non-native invasive species and develop long-term management.

The one-hour program is suitable for children five years and older. All children must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver.

Have an idea for a fun, funny or thought-provoking story or topic? Get in touch: we want to hear from you. – Vanessa (@mauinow.com)

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