HONOLULU – Oct. 17, 2008 - On Monday (Oct. 13), 12 endangered puaiohi birds were successfully transferred from the Big Island to the Alakai Wilderness Preserve on Kauai, thanks to a collaborative conservation effort by the Zoological Society of San Diego, state and federal agencies, and Hawaiian Airlines.
Altogether, 23 puaiohi – also known as the small Kauai thrush – have been transported and released into their native environment on Kauai over the past week. The flock of birds, one of which can easily fit in the palm of the hand, was reproduced and raised in a protected setting at the San Diego Zoo’s Keauhou Bird Conservation Center at Volcano on the Big Island.
“The puaiohi is one of Hawaii’s most critically endangered birds and we are all doing what we can to save these birds from extinction and protect their habitat,” said David Leonard, wildlife biologist with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife. “The work done to release the puaiohi back into the forest is a very complex process that takes place in a difficult area to reach, but is important to its conservation.”
Other government agencies joining the Zoological Society, DLNR, and Hawaiian in the transporting of the puaiohi are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit. The collaborative effort is part of the Kauai Endangered Forest Bird Recovery Project, the mission of which is to monitor the birds’ reproduction and survival, as well as track newly released birds.
Early Monday morning, 12 puaiohi were carefully placed into two onboard carrying cases and buckled into passenger seats on Hawaiian from Hilo to Lihue, accompanied by biologists Robby Kohley and Rebecca Espinoza from the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center.
On Kauai, following a one-hour drive into Kokee State Park and a one-mile hike to the trailhead of the Alakai Wilderness Preserve, the birds were placed into a protected acclimation aviary where they will live for a week before being released into the surrounding forest.
“It’s exhilarating to see progress made in the recovery of an endangered species. The collective efforts put forth by state and federal agencies and Hawaiian Airlines to save the puaiohi is making all this possible,” said Alan Lieberman, conservation program manager for the San Diego Zoo.
The puaiohi is native to Kauai and was the last of Kauai’s birds to be discovered by western ornithologists. It feeds on fleshy fruits, insects, snails and prefers to nest in remote ravines that are difficult to access. The current population of puaiohi on Kauai is estimated at approximately 500 individuals.
Hawaiian is supporting the Hawaii species conservation effort by transporting biologists and endangered birds free of charge several times a year.
About Hawaiian Airlines
The nation’s top-ranked airline for service in the 2007 Airline Quality Ratings, Hawaiian has led all U.S. carriers in on-time performance for each of the past four straight years (2004-2007) and in fewest misplaced bags for the past three years (2005-2007) as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Consumer surveys by Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Zagat have all ranked Hawaiian as the top domestic airline serving Hawaii.
Now in its 79th year of continuous service in Hawaii, Hawaiian is the state’s biggest and longest serving airline, as well as the second largest provider of passenger air service between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii. Hawaiian offers nonstop service to Hawaii from more U.S. gateway cities (10) than any other airline, as well as service to the Philippines, Australia, American Samoa, and Tahiti. Hawaiian also provides approximately 150 daily jet flights among the Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. is a subsidiary of Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HA). Additional information is available at HawaiianAirlines.com.