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Protected seabirds need your assistance

By Cpl. Jessica M. Mills | | November 28, 2003

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From November until January, the juvenile Wedge-tailed Shearwater bird (a seabird), protected under the Hawaii Migratory Bird Act, will be in its migratory stage across Oahu.  During this time period, the amount of stranded birds cases aboard MCB Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, will increase significantly, according to MCB Hawaii game wardens.

The Game Warden's Office has issued a warning to base residents, employees and patrons to not have any contact with these birds - no matter where they are found.

"People who come in contact with these birds are touching them and moving them, and it is extremely disruptive to their habitat," said Cpl. Jason Grimes, a game warden.  "These are a very fragile species.  The ones that we are picking up are in the juvenile stage, which means they are just learning how to fly.  So, they will fly until they are exhausted and land wherever they have to."

Most of these birds have been found at the MCB Hawaii flight line and the housing areas adjacent to North Beach.  Again, the game warden emphasizes to not touch them, move them or attempt to handle them in any way.  The birds should be left where they have landed, because they are exhausted and do not need to move at all.  

"Even if the bird is in immediate danger due to the area he landed, do not touch it!"  said Sgt. Apollo Fisk, another game warden.  "If you need to block traffic to protect it, then do so, and wait for our office to get to the scene.  The birds are in more danger if they are handled."

Also, do not give the Shearwaters any water or food whatsoever; this includes freshwater.  These seabirds have special eating habits, and any change in their diet can harm or kill them. 

Due to the fragile nature of these birds, they can be injured very easily.  The State of Hawaii fines anyone who injures the Wedge-tailed Shearwater - no matter what the scenario.

"Our base is quite unique," said Grimes.  "Kaneohe Bay has one of the highest populations of protected species on Hawaii, including Shearwaters, Booby Birds, Hawaiian Stilts, Terrens and much more, which is why it is so important that we all practice awareness and protect these species."

Once the game warden picks up the juvenile Shearwaters, they are transferred to Sea Life Park in Waimanalo for rehabilitation, and then released back into the wild.

If you do find a Wedge-tailed Shearwater that has landed somewhere in your vicinity, the game warden asks that you positively identify the bird by the picture below and call the Game Wardens' Office at (808) 257-1821, or the Environmental Protection and Compliance Department at (808) 257-6920.

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