21 Sep 2011

Endangered Nihoa Millerbird translocated to try and keep the species alive

4:21 pm on 21 September 2011

Conservationists in the United States hope that the translocation of the endangered Nihoa Millerbird within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands will ensure its survival.

Two dozen birds were taken by boat more than one thousand kilometers north from Nihoa, up to Laysan, this month.

A biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Holly Freifeld, says a subspecies had once lived on Laysan before its extinction in the early 20th century after introduced rabbits destroyed the island's vegetation.

She says the latest project took five years to prepare for and cost 850,000 US dollars.

"We're optimistic. It's too soon to say yet, if and when, they are going to breed. But we are very optimistic that the birds are adapting really well and we watched them start foraging instantly as soon as we released them and all signs are good. 15"

Holly Freifeld says the translocation reduces the chances of a natural disaster or disease outbreak wiping out the entire species.