2010 Report (January to July)

2010 January Volunteer Banding Trips

During January of 2010, we ran our second round of volunteer banding trips. This was a continuation of the banding efforts that began in November to capture new Maui Parrotbill and try to locate last years' offspring. These volunteers were experienced banders whom came from various regions to help the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project band our focal bird species. Our group spent time in each of our main Hanawi Natural Area Reserves sites, HR3 and Frisbee. This group of volunteers included Rachel Woodard, Colin Woolley, and Ross Kresnik. Over the course of this month spent banding, we set up nets in four different in areas in each of our sites. Six new Maui parrotbill were caught and banded, including an unbanded pair in Frisbee. An amazing nine akohekohe were caught. Before these volunteer banding trips, we had only about 4 banded akohekohe within the two study areas! Hopefully we can learn more about these birds because of these new additions.

The Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project is very grateful to these volunteers for their time and hard work. We would not have been able to accomplish nearly this much work without them. We appreciate their time as well as the new friendships that developed and all the newly banded birds that resulted from these trips.

Here are some of their thoughts on their experiences:

"As I lay beneath an ohia tree the mist rolled in, making it ever more difficult to identify the soft silhouettes of Maui's most spectacular honeycreepers. Only the vibrant songs of the forest were readily identifiable before being silenced by the footsteps of a researcher laden with banding gear. Prior to this instant I had experienced a moment of reflection regarding my time with the MFBRP.

Unlike many travelling to Maui, my trip would not involve fancy resorts, serene beaches, and overpriced cocktails but was instead a unique opportunity to assist with a banding effort of Maui's most endangered birds. From the moment I met Hanna Mounce (the MFBRP's Avian Conservation Research Facilitator) at the airport, to the point that I departed the island, I felt like a member of their team. The MFBRP is run by a group of highly motivated and skilled individuals which created a strong learning and educational environment while in the field. In addition to understanding the current plight facing these remarkable birds, I learned new banding techniques that will undoubtedly benefit me in future experiences. Besides an excellent group dynamic, this volunteer position offered beautiful scenery, a chance to explore the island, breath taking helicopter rides, and most importantly a chance to examine some of the most incredible birds on this planet.

I have never worked with a better group of researchers throughout all of my adventures. I highly recommend that if given this rare opportunity to volunteer with the MFBRP, you take it; the experience is once in a lifetime!"

Ross J. Kresnik


2010 Field Season (February to July)

The Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project had a busy field season this year. To complement our permanent staff, we hired six additional technicians starting in February. Devon Anderson, Richard Aracil, and Charissa Rujanavech made up the Po'ouli Camp team and Jenny Hazelhurst, Ehren Banfield, and Adam Elzinga made up the Frisbee Meadows team. They worked alongside MFBRP staff until June recording data on the Maui Parrotbill and their productivity.

At Po'ouli Camp, the team put in about 200 person days of effort, which came out to 840 hours of bird research, covering about 260 km. At Frisbee Meadows, 247 person days were put into the season, totaling 1366 hours and covering 325 km. Technicians spent their days resighting Maui Alauahio and Maui Parrotbill. Of banded individuals, 59 Alauahio and 17 Parrotbill were seen at Po'ouli Camp, and 5 Akohekohe, 93 Alauahio and 13 Parrotbill were located at Frisbee Meadows.

The weather was fairly moderate over the entire season with the temperature low being in the 40s and highs getting up to the 60s and even the 70s in June. Rainfall for the season was 115 inches over the five month period.

In addition to searching for Maui Parrotbill, the teams did variable circular point (VCP) counts for all bird species and 500 meter transects counts for Parrotbill, Alauahio and Akohekohe. These allow us to get relative number estimates of the birds. The teams got together at the end of the season to determine productivity at their respective sites. Po'ouli Camp found 9 Parrotbill pairs, of which 5 had fledglings this season. Frisbee Meadows had 18 Parrotbill pairs, of which 6 had fledglings. At the end of the season, one nest was still active with a hatchling being fed by the female.

Starting in June we also had an intern, Tawny Neal join MFBRP. Her main task was to sort fecal samples that MFBRP has gotten over the past few years, searching for arthropod pieces to later be identified in Parrotbill and Alauahio diet analyses. In July, three volunteers also joined MFBRP: Elizabeth Burris, Jesse Agee, and Lidia D'Amico. These four assisted MFBRP staff in banding operations at both Po'ouli Camp and Frisbee Meadows. At Po'ouli, a Melodious Laughing Thrush was caught for the first time. This may be indicative of invasive birds becoming more numerous in higher elevation forests and will be interesting to monitor in the coming years.

While the Parrotbill eluded us during our first July banding trip, the team was able to catch a Maui Parrotbill at Frisbee Meadows during our second field trip. It was an unbanded male of one of the pairs that the team had been watching all season. Unfortunately, this pair did not have a hatch-year this year, but we may be able to watch this pair more closely the next year now that the male has bands.

We'd like to thank our entire field team of the 2010 season: technicians, volunteers, and interns. It was a great year and the help that these people put in will allow MFBRP to continue working to recover Maui's native forest birds! Mahalo!