60,000 on Kauai vs the Newell’s Shearwater

Kauai, Newell’s shearwater

[Hawaii, Kauai.]

A title like “They chose the bird over our keiki*” would probably have captured the situation better.


These young, inexperienced birds see our lights in the evening sky and fly towards shore instead of heading out on a moonlit path to the sea. Attracted by the bright lights, the juvenile shearwaters collide with poles, wires, and buildings before crashing to the ground. …these young birds, once grounded, are easy prey for cats, rats, mongoose, dogs, and, more often than not, are hit by and/or run over by cars.

-DLNR Press Release

In recent years, the Newell’s shearwater’s population has plunged 75 percent from about 70,000.

Known to breed only within the mountainous terrain of the southeastern Hawaiian Islands, fledglings take off between September 15th and December 15th each year — smack in the middle of the football season. Kauai’s bright lights (literal manifest of its growing prosperity and population) disorientate these young birds.

The Kauai Interscholastic Federation changed the football schedule as Kauai County was facing possible federal prosecution for failing to protect seabirds. In spring 2010, the St. Regis Princeville Resort was the subject of the Center for Biological Diversity‘s notice of intent to sue.

Some from the ‘garden isle’ of about 60,000 people have been wearing T-shirts to football games voicing their discontent.

I wonder how this will turn out.

*keiki: children| Actual comment. Island residents warned that some people were talking about refusing to rescue birds they saw on the ground in protest of the schedule switch.


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