August 28, 2015 – Newell’s Shearwater or ‘A‘o (Puffinus newelli)
Found over deep waters in the North Pacific Ocean, these shearwaters breed only on several of the Hawaiian islands. They eat mostly squid and small fish, diving to hunt and often catching prey that has been driven to the surface by large predators. Nesting in burrows, which they usually dig under ferns or grasses at the base of trees, both parents incubate a single egg and care for the chick together. Newell’s Shearwaters are classified as Endangered. They face threats from artificial light, which can disorient young birds, causing them to crash into structures or fall to the ground exhausted, which makes them vulnerable to predators. Introduced mammals, such as feral cats, rats, and mongooses also prey on the chicks and eggs and habitat loss threatens their nesting areas. As most of the population breeds on one island, they are also at risk from hurricanes or other disasters. In 1992 Hurricane Iniki caused damage that seems to have led to a rapid decline in their population.