As many ABA members know, many of the Hawaiian bird species that soon will be added to the ABA checklist are endangered. There are several threats that have contributed to the decline of Hawaiian birds, and the importance of those factors varies among the species. For one of Hawaii’s endangered endemic birds, the Oahu Elepaio, the primary threat is predation on nests by non-native rats.
Elepaio are members of the Monarch Flycatcher family (Monarchidae), which does not occur in North America, and there are three species of elepaio, one each on the islands of Kauai, Oahu, and Hawaii. The Kauai and Hawaii elepaio species are relatively common, but the Oahu Elepaio is rare and endangered.
Efforts to control rats numbers have been successful at reducing predation by rats, and in some areas have reversed the declines and allowed Oahu Elepaio numbers to increase. The trick now is to control rats over a larger area to protect more nesting elepaio pairs, and an effort is currently underway to do just that.
A crowdfunding campaign launched by Pacific Rim Conservation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Hawaii is raising funds to remove rats from more areas where elepaio are trying to nest. This is a deceptively simple project, but it’s one that really works and works well. A small donation can have a big impact on these native Hawaiian birds.
To learn more about all of the elepaios found in Hawaii, see this ABA Blog post and the accompanying article published in the July 2012 issue of Birding magazine (members only).