Releasing Newell's Shearwaters

Island School Hawaiian Studies Kumu Sabra Kauka releases a Newell’s shearwater from a South Shore release site. Residents bring injured or stranded birds to the nearest fire station for care; then they are released close to the ocean. Archival photo by Anne E. O’Malley

County officials announced that work crews are in the process of manually disconnecting non-shielded exterior lights at all county facilities. The work is being done in preparation for the Newell’s Shearwater fledgling season, which begins on Sept. 15 and ends on Dec. 15.

Over the last year, the Department of Public Works has shielded hundreds of exterior lights at county facilities and is continuing the project as part of a plea agreement between the county and the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ).

The shielding and elimination of all sources of light attraction at county facilities help to protect Hawai‘i’s threatened and endangered seabirds during the fledgling season.

The county began implementing minimization measures two years ago to protect the Newell’s Shearwater, Hawaiian Petrel and the Band-rumped Petrel. No downed birds have been reported at any county facility since then.
Other minimization measures taken by the county include: training for all county employees on the cultural and ecological importance of the seabirds and bird-friendly practices; and a monitoring program for threatened and endangered seabirds at county facilities.

Under the agreement between the county and USDOJ, up to four evening Kaua’i Interscholastic Football games are allowed during the fledgling season, as long as due consideration is given to the threatened and endangered seabirds.

The selection of the dates and times for the evening games is based on the generally accepted peak period for the fledglings’ first flight, along with the phases of the moon and its rising and setting times.