Birds need our help, not our hate
I was born and raised in Honolulu. In 1979 I moved to Kaua‘i as I watched my childhood home covered with concrete. I wanted to live in an environment closer to nature.
The braying call of the Newell’s shearwaters flying towards their nesting sites mauka always thrills me. Like the first kolea to return from their nesting time in Alaska, I always noted the first shearwaters call in spring. Their call in the early mornings as they headed seaward to find fish for their young told me that dawn was coming.
Like the stars they are a part of the changing of the seasons in Hawai‘i. I think of them valiantly seeking food at sea to bring back to their young in their burrows.
Then this year I got scared. Instead of dozens of calls every night, I am hearing only one or two — four at the most — flying over my home in Wainiha. We don’t have bright lights nor many powerlines in our valley that usually account for downed shearwaters.
Is it the lack of fish at sea? I have been told that they will not return to land to breed if there’s not enough food in the sea to raise their single chick. Are pigs and rats and feral cats wiping out their nests? The adults leave their nestlings for the last 10 days before they fledge which makes them extremely vulnerable to predators.
So it was with interest that I read the Associated Press article that appeared in Sunday’s paper. I am glad that it has brought light to the plight of the shearwaters. However, the sentiments expressed by some of those attending a football game baffled and saddened me.
How can someone say that the county chose the bird over the keiki? How can the inconvenience and discomfort to having to hold football games during the day outweigh saving the lives of endangered seabirds? (As a friend pointed out, their football practice is held during the afternoons after school.)
And the comment that we don’t have much to offer our kids on Kaua‘i except Friday night football — “And then they took that away from us.” — makes me shake my head. What about surfing, hunting, fishing, boogie boarding?
What has happened to the sense of reverence for the land: malama ‘aina? How have we gone from a community that for decades has taken pride in caring for downed shearwaters to people wearing T-shirts that say “Buck the firds”? What kind of world are we moving towards where we can’t be inconvenienced for the sake of another species’ survival?
I decided to volunteer for Save Our Shearwaters this fall. Recently, I rode with the person picking up birds at the aid stations along the north and east shores. At the first aid station someone had scribbled “Up You A$$” on the board where people are meant to note the location where the bird was found. We picked up one bird at nine stations. It was the first she’d picked up since the season began over a month ago. Last year they were picking up 20 a day. We took the bird in for rehab. With luck it will get stronger and return to sea to live its full life.
These birds need our help not our hate. They are the proverbial canary in the coal mine; their fate presages our own. Yet most Kaua‘i residents seem oblivious to how precious our native plants and animals are; that we live in what is often referred to as the extinction capitol of America because so many of our native species are in peril.
I wonder if it is a matter of education. Konrad Lorenz, a Nobel laureate who studied animal behavior, wrote: “...there are fewer and fewer adults devoted to nature. Fewer and fewer hours of the curriculum are directed to biology. Often biology has become the least important course in high school. People simply don’t believe that they will be in dire straits in a hundred years because of their lack of understanding in this area. The situation is already very serious. Most little boys easily recognize a make of car — no matter how similar cars are they can distinguish them perfectly — but don’t know what kind of bird is flying past.”
Kathy Valier, Wainiha
Do your homework, Sierra Club
In regards to your environmental endorsement of Neil Abercrombie: If you have access to a computer please go online and read about the Abercrombie Peterson Bill introduced in 2008 and cosponsored by Mr. Abercrombie.
It proposed lifting the offshore drill moratorium to allow drilling for natural gas within 25 miles of land. Natural gas is a fossil fuel, drilling is drilling.
The theory was that America could produce its own fossil fuel with out having it imported. There is nothing environmental, green or sustainable about laying 420 trillion cubic feet of pipe in, over and under our land and ocean.
Fortunately, Mr. Abercrombie chose to vote against his own bill and it died.
In 2007 the Sierra Club warned Congress and Mr. Abercrombie of the potential dangers to our environment if the moratorium on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf were to be lifted. Sierra Club, do your homework.
Stuart and Mika Hollinger, Kilauea