2013 Report (February 2013-January 2014)

February to June 2013

The 2013 breeding season marked MFBRP’s second full year intensely monitoring Kiwikiu in The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Waikamoi Preserve. Our team followed and monitored breeding Kiwikiu pairs, adding to our knowledge of the population’s demographics in Waikamoi, the westernmost edge of the species’ range.

From February to June, full time staff as well as AmeriCorps intern, Christa Seidl were joined by four research assistants: Lexi Journey, Teia Schweizer, Robert Taylor, and Keith Burnett.

Their time amounted to 495 person days and 3335 hours of research. Within this time, 17 individual Kiwikiu were re-sighted and 8 were newly banded. Overall, 21 Kiwikiu pairs were located and six of them were seen with hatch-year (or juvenile) birds, giving the season a 28.5% success rate for hatch-years/pair. In addition, we also found and monitored five nests. Only two of the nests were successful. Two failed after heavy rain and one failed in the late nestling stage and may have been depredated.

In addition to productivity monitoring, we continued experimentally providing supplementary food to the Kiwikiu, which began last year. We modified our feeders to increase their height from 3 ft to 7 ft, which is more in the parrotbills’ feeding range. We also tried to attract them to the feeders by camouflaging them with their favorite plants and playing calls. Unfortunately, no parrotbill used the feeders. We did put the feeders in captivity within the Maui Bird Conservation Center and parrotbill readily fed from them there. When Kiwikiu are reintroduced to the leeward side of Haleakalā, there may be a mix of captive and wild birds released. One idea is that the captive birds may be able to teach the wild birds how to use the feeders if they are conditioned to use them in captivity first. One other idea for the translocations is to use soft release in which the birds may need to be held in an enclosure for several days prior to release in the new habitat. Once the translocation and re-introduction plans are completed, these feeders may be used with that technique as well.

The team also went to MFBRP's restoration site in Nakula Natural Area Reserve. We applied herbicide to specific plots, weed-whacked others, and also collected seeds. We will continue managing and monitoring these plots throughout the next couple of years.

Expanding our research capabilities, MFBRP was also joined by two graduate students this year, Alex Wang and Peter Motyka. Alex is studying movements of 'Akohekohe using radio telemetry in TNC’s Waikamoi Preserve. During his first pilot season, seven 'Akohekohe were caught, five were fitted with transmitters and he was able to follow them from June to August. He had several volunteers assisting with field work in order to make this project possible including Araks Ohanyan, Kristi Cook, Heather Geyer, and Joey Leibrecht. Peter is studying Maui 'Alauahio use of non-native forests in Kula Forest Reserve. As of July 2013, 2,200 ha of habitat was surveyed and 129 variable circular plot point counts were performed with vegetation sampling. In a subsection of this study site, 60 Maui 'Alauahio have been color-banded and 16 Maui 'Alauahio nests were found and observed. Peter had two technicians assisting him, Aaron Spidal and Erick Lundgren, working with him from January until July.

You can also view our Midseason Report here.

Fall 2013/Winter 2014

This fall marked our first forest restoration planting season in the Nakula Natural Area Reserve. One of our primary goals is to restore native forest on leeward Haleakalā in order to establish a second population of Kiwikiu in the future. Trial restoration began with various experimental manipulations aimed at assessing the most effective ways to spur regeneration of this diverse forest. For more details on our restoration trials, see Protocols for Restoration Trails in Nakula Natural Area Reserve.

Between October and January we focused on plot manipulation (e.g. weed whacking), planting, and seed collection. Overall, 6,709 plants were put in the ground. Species included māmane, ʻōhiʻa, koa, 'iliahi, aʻaliʻi, ʻākala, pilo, māmaki, 'ōhelo, and kawa'u. The seedlings planted included 1,314 plants that were sponsored by community members through our crowd funding campaign. Seeds were collected from 'ōlapa, koa, ʻōhiʻa, aʻaliʻi, and kawa'u for propagation of new plants that will be planted late 2014.

Vegetation monitoring started in January. We will continue monitoring all of our plots every six months for the next 2 years. We are looking at all woody species within the plots and measuring their survival, height, and presence/absence for natural regeneration plots. Monitoring will allow us to see which plots produce the highest survival, abundance, and diversity of plant species as well as the healthiest individuals to design a larger scale restoration plan.

In addition to planting, each trip we are checking game cameras for predator presence around the area. We have had mongooses, rats, and mice visit our cameras so far indicating their presence in the area and potential for depredation of native species. Signs of feral cats have also been noted in the area.

We also collect data on the weather. Photo points are located around the area and photos are taken each trip in order to document changing vegetation over time.

In January, we scattered seeds in our seed scatter plots. This was a mixture of seeds that have been collected and scarified for the purpose of this experiment. Seeds include ʻākala, ʻōhiʻa, kawau, olomea, kolea, koa, māmane, and 'ōhelo.

Preston Sheaks and Sam Jordan, restoration assistants, joined the MFBRP staff this fall in order to help with planting. We also had 3-4 community volunteers join us for each trip. We would not have been able to get all the plants in the ground without such dedication and hard work. We would like to thank the following all-star volunteers for their hard work: Teia Schweizer, Lisa Munger, Chris Farmer, Lance Tanino, Victoria Stout, John Comcowich, Bryan Berkowitz, Terez Amato-Lindsey, Jennifer Higashino, Peter Luscomb, Monte Tudor-Long, Gary Ditzel, Michelle Smith, Russell Reinertson, Naomi Pang, Dave McPherson, and James Fleming.

Plants that were planted in Nakula.

Handful of seeds to be scattered.