Tuesday, March 31, 2009
This Time in Hawaii: Recent environmental monitoring by USGS scientists has revealed that feral cats and other non-native predators are threatening the palila, an endangered Hawaiian forest bird. The palila is a Hawaiian honeycreeper with a gray back, yellow breast, yellow head and finch-like beak. Fewer than 5,000 of these birds exist today. The scientists discovered that feral cats kill chicks in about 10 percent of palila nests found on Mauna Kea Volcano each year. Surveillance video and other techniques have shown feral cats to be the most damaging bird predator on Mauna Kea, but non-native rats and mongooses also prey on palila and their eggs. These predation pressures slow recovery of the endangered palila and other native Hawaiian birds. USGS scientists are developing techniques to help managers reduce threats from these invaders.