Saving the Palila

Palila by Robby Kohley

Palila by Robby Kohley

 

American Bird Conservancy has made the Palila one of its high-priority species for our bird conservation work in Hawaii. The endangered Palila, which once lived throughout the Hawaiian Islands, is now clinging to less than 5 percent of its range on the Big Island of Hawaii. ABC has begun an ambitious project in an attempt to undo hundreds of years of habitat degradation in just 15 years.

 

ABCís goal is to increase the Palila population to at least 2,000 individual birds by 2023, which we believe can be accomplished by fencing and restoring its core breeding habitat, and engaging in aggressive predator control. The two major factors affecting the Palila population are degradation of natural habitat by non-native ungulates (e.g., mouflon /sheep hybrids and goats), whose heavy grazing prevents regeneration of the birdís native mamane forest habitat, and predation by introduced predators.

 

ABC has partnered with the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) to:

  • Improve the quality of mamane forests by installing fencing to exclude the non-native ungulates
     
  • Reduce predation pressure on the Palila, especially during the nesting season, by removing non-native predators such as feral cats and mongooses

Once the critical habitat is completely fenced, non-native ungulates will be eradicated, allowing the mamane forest to regenerate. Trapping and removing of cats and other predators will be part of a long-term effort to improve Palila nesting success. ABC staff are also working with DOFAW and the US Geological Survey to provide annual population monitoring data on the Palila, both in its core range and on the north slope of Mauna Kea where Palila have been released.

 

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