First Wind Unveils Makamakaʻole Endangered Bird Project

July 12, 2013, 10:43 AM HST · Updated July 12, 11:07 AM
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Alicia Rhoades, First Wind Habitat Conservation Plan Compliance Technician, installing a shearwater burrow. Courtesy photo.

Alicia Rhoades, First Wind Habitat Conservation Plan Compliance Technician, installing a shearwater burrow. Courtesy photo.

By Wendy Osher

First Wind, the renewable energy company that operates the Kaheawa Wind farms above Māʻalaea on Maui, unveiled a newly constructed bird enclosure on Thursday.

The Makamakaʻole seabird mitigation project is part of a program undertaken by the company as part of a Habitat Conservation Plan of its Kaheawa Wind project, which is located several miles away.

Company officials say the recently completed enclosure is being built to protect the federally endangered Newells Shearwater. A second bird enclosure, currently under construction, is aimed at protecting the Hawaiian Petrel from predators, officials said.

Steve Sawyer of Ecoworks (New Zealand) inspecting a mongoose trap. Courtesy photo.

Steve Sawyer of Ecoworks (New Zealand) inspecting a mongoose trap. Courtesy photo.

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“When fully operational these enclosures will protect and bolster Maui’s endangered native bird species for years to come,” said Dave Cowan, vice president for environmental affairs at First Wind, in a company press release.

“The project has been shaped with input from the community and with the support of local and international experts. We look forward to seeing the site come to serve as a gathering place and safe haven for these vulnerable birds,” said Cowan.

The conservation plan reportedly includes artificial burrows, custom decoys and sound systems broadcasting bird calls to attract birds to nest.

Cameras have been set up at the enclosure to facilitate monitoring by biologists, which is planned for the next 20 years.

Officials from the company that designed the enclosures called the project “precedent-setting for a private company.”

Steve Sawyer, president of EcoWorks New Zealand, commented in the media release saying, “This state-of-the-art design has been shown to keep unwanted predators out so that endangered birds can not only survive, but thrive.”

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