Bird rescue on Maui – how you can help

For most people, spending a Lahaina vacation at our Maui resort is a chance to relax and do nothing. However, if you’re an activist type who wants to get involved in volunteering while you’re on our island, there is something you can do to help the local wildlife.

The season from September to December is known as “seabird fledgling season.” This is the time of the year when seabird chicks abandon their nests to undertake their first nocturnal flights to the sea.

The problem is that these birds use the moon to navigate, and as any astronomer can tell you, light pollution is a huge issue. Bright city lights wreak havoc on the night sky, and this is a problem not just for astronomers, but wildlife as well. The lights from office buildings, homes and streetlights end up confusing young birds and causing them to travel inland instead of out to sea.

The end result is a lot of rough landings in strange locations, with seabirds of all ages – but particularly the young – becoming stranded and needing human help to find the way back. This is why volunteers (as well as Maui residents in general) are advised to be on the look out and prepare to help stranded birds in their time of need.

It’s fairly easy to do – all you need by way of supplies is a clean towel and a ventilated cardboard box or pet carrier. If you discover a downed seabird, you should pick them up from behind with the towel and carefully wrap up its back and wings. Then, quickly place it in your container.

After this, you shouldn’t handle the bird further, tempted as you may be. That means not giving it any water or food. And you also shouldn’t try to release the bird back into the wild yourself, even if it looks like it is in good condition. The bird may have internal injuries or other ailments that a lay person can’t easily diagnose by sight. What you should do is take the bird to a wildlife rehabilitation center or contact animal control. If you do this, you will have done your part to help keep Maui wildlife diverse and healthy.