The banding volunteers enjoying their time on Haleakala
The crew at Frisbee Meadows ready for their helicoptor flight.
The banding station where birds are processed and released
Laura Glenister releases a newly banded Apapane.
One of the banding volunteers, Adam with an I'iwi
During the winter of 2009 and 2010, we had two volunteer groups come to the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project to assist with forest bird banding efforts. These volunteers were selected from a pool of applicants based on their previous banding expertise and skills. The groups had about 10 days in each of our field sites, HR3 and Frisbee Meadows, to experience the native Maui rainforest and its birds.
The first group of volunteers included Adam Beeler, Laura Glenister, Jennifer Lowry, and Peter Motyka. These experienced banders traveled from various regions to learn about the native birds of Maui. Over the course of this month spent banding, they were able to set up more than 60 nets at each site. Five new Maui parrotbill were caught and banded, including one called the 'Christmas' female who had managed to sneak away from mistnets over the past couple of years. Even an akohekohe was caught, a bird that spends much of its time in the canopy of the forest and is not easily lured into lower nets.
The Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project is extremely grateful for the generous donation of time that each of these volunteers has given us. They allowed us to accomplish more fieldwork than would ever have been manageable with only our staff.
The experience of the rainforest and of holding birds that are rarely seen to the world surely changed the lives of these four amazing workers.
Here are some of their thoughts:
"The opportunity to work with some of the most unique birds in the world was amazing. I learned new skills and techniques through the collaboration with fellow experienced banders. The discovery of Maui during the off-time made for an adventurous time to remember. It was a great experience!"
"I hold many fond memories of my time at Hanawi. I remember the sounds of the rainforest; the strange song of the Apapane. I remember the breathtaking views of the beaches far below, all seeming a world away. I remember lying in the cosy dorm at HR3, listening to the rain pound the corrugated rooftop. I remember every night being pleasantly exhausted by the day"s muddy hike. I remember seeing the I'iwi for the first time - it's long curved red bill a textbook example of adaptive radiation. I remember the incredible sensation of being above a thick blanket of clouds at Frisbee Meadows. I remember wishing I had my camera when we caught the only Akohekohe. I remember the rainbows and the sunsets. I remember the inquisitive yellow Creepers perching in the branches close by. I remember good friendships. I remember not wanting to leave.
Most of all I remember finding the first Parrotbill in the mist net and it really hitting home that this little bird could follow other native rainforest birds into extinction without our help. I remember feeling lucky to be one of a privileged few to work in such a remote and unique place as Hanawi, with such special birds. I really hope the Maui Parrotbill will not be just a memory one day."
"Oh sweet Hanawi. My first motivation to volunteer with MFBRP was to experience the real and true natural essence of Hawaii, something beyond what you can get in Waikiki. I found it in Hanawi Natural Area Reserve. The terrain, the habitat, and the birds were all so new to me and they were stunning. To be up there working with the fabulous staff and crew of MFBRP was great on so many levels. Some of the most valuable ideas I brought home from this experience deal with conservation of the birds and their habitat, not just of these wonderful Hawaiian natives, but also of wildlife everywhere. The perilous list of threats vs. the passion and persistence of everyone working to counteract those threats have inspired me to work harder myself and to convince others that these forests and these birds are worth working for."
"The thing that I will always remember about my experience in Hanawi is the contrast I saw between two worlds. The first world of modern civilization, with all the marks that the Earth bears from humanity's advancement and spread, was immediately felt. Car dealerships, strip malls, and adjacent pasturelands all made Maui seem like it was part and whole with the continental United States at my first glance. However, every time I watched the sun rise over Hanawi from Frisbee Meadows and saw the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean surrounding Maui below me, I got a real sense of how extraordinary this place was. Having worked in the rainforests of Belize and Costa Rica, my first impression of Hanawi was how different and unique it was from other forests. The strange homogeneity of plant life and suspicious paucity of animal activity were at first startling. Approaching a mist net wondering with a special worry if the bird I caught is a native species or foreign was a feeling that I will probably have very few times in my life. Sadly, the surprise and disappointment of seeing an animal that surely should not be in that environment will become all too common, I fear. It is just another reality of the anthropogenic world. Hanawi is special, and with the biodiversity of the entire Hawaii archipelago is under siege, it is a place that needs it's warriors. I am honored to have been a part of that effort."
In the 18 days of banding, this team was able to capture and process more birds than the core staff of 2008, who processed 6 new MAPA in 19 days. MFBRP was very happy about the success of these trips; many thanks go to our hardworking volunteers. We can now follow the breeding habits of these 5 new MAPA and learn more about this rare species.