LIHUE, Kauai — Officials have tagged nine Newell’s shearwater chicks on Kauai, aiming to gain insight into what happens when the young seabirds leave the island for the ocean.
Officials with the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project and Save Our Shearwaters attached transmitters to the fledglings in recent weeks as they left their mountain burrows, The Garden Island reported Sunday.
The project that started in 2014 aims to track information about fledgling flight patterns. Officials plan to eventually tag 50 birds for the project.
“The idea is to find out what happens to the fallout shearwater chicks once they have been released and head out to sea,” said Andre Raine of the recovery project. “The last we see of them is a dark speck heading out over the open waters in the distance — the satellite tags allow us to see what happens next.”
After the wings of the endangered birds develop large enough for flight, they leave their mountain nesting sites, using the moon to navigate. They can become attracted to bright artificial lights and will sometimes circle the light sources until they fall.
“We want to see how these rehabilitated birds fare compared to birds that have not been attracted and grounded by light pollution, as light attraction is a huge problem for Newell’s shearwater on Kauai,” Raine said.
“So far our tagged birds have flown thousands of kilometers to the southwest of Kauai — an amazing feat when one considers that this is the first time they have ever flown, having grown up in the dark confines of their mountain burrows.”