Shearwaters Establishing New Colony on Molokai

Shearwater pair inside a dugout nest with eggs on Mo'omomi Beach
Shearwater pair inside a dugout nest with eggs on Mo'omomi Beach
Shearwater chick nestling inside a dugout nest on Mo'omomi Beach
Shearwater chick nestling inside a dugout nest on Mo'omomi Beach

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Wedge-tailed shearwaters are establishing a new colony for the first time in decades at the Nature Conservancy Mo'omomi Preserve on Molokai.

State wildlife officials say the shearwaters' return is due to the Conservancy's weed and predator control efforts.

In 1999, Molokai staff discovered three sand burrows and began implementing year-round monitoring and protection strategies.

An annual nest count shows the new colony is thriving: from the initial three in 1999 to 17 nests in 2000, to more than 100 by 2004.  In 2006, there were 254 nests counted and this year, staff counted 307 active nests.

Wedge-tails live all their lives at sea and come ashore only to breed.

The birds nest in shallow sand burrows.

Photos courtesy of: Kathy Tachibana/The Nature Conservancy