Kohala Middle School Hale ‘Ike 2013

Kohala Middle School students in Hale ‘Ike are participating in a multi-week project where, for part one, they broke into small teams and took turns caring for our native garden, cleaning windows and doing science projects with Judi our Rehabilitation Manager. They have now switched gears to part two with one group developing a PSA video for the Center and one group drawing pictures of native flora and fauna.

When asked about what they learned and how their time and hard work tied into their house theme ‘Ike, a Hawaiian term that represents a deeper knowledge that goes beyond “book smarts”, this is what the some of the students shared with us.

HWC Wins Architecture Magazine Award

The Hawaii Wildlife Center has won one of only 21 national design awards selected by a jury of well known architects for Architecture magazine’s annual design review. The HWC won within the “Grow” category, which includes architecture related to Education, Science, and Healthcare; the HWC is one of only 4 award winning projects within this category.

All 21 projects were complimented for “clarity of intent” (“very clear statements about what their relationship is to their surroundings”) and “economy of means”, which is gratifying since those are such important ingredients of architecture, and especially difficult during these difficult economic times.

We are honored to be included with such amazing projects and are absolutely thrilled that our design team is getting the recognition they deserve.  The HWC facility has more than exceeded our expectations and has allowed us to carry out our work, rescuing and rehabilitating native birds and bats from throughout the state.


Happy Halloween 2012!

We seemed to have acquired two more, rather large, native birds today…

Jojo Pueo and Rae I‘iwi loved checking out the raptor pen and forest bird aviary!







Uh oh!  The Pueo found its way into the forest bird aviary…















The I‘iwi was caught and brought back to the raptor pen!















Okay, enough play.  Back to work!!!














The HWC’s First Patient

Even though HWC President and Center Director Linda Elliott and Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager Judi Ellal have been providing professional wildlife care for over a decade, this particular bird will definitely be one that we’ll always remember!

For more media coverage of the HWC’s first release, check out the article by Hawai‘i 24/7!


HWC Building Design

Did you know that all the architects and engineers for the HWC facility were pro-bono?  Or that the design of the building was derived from architecture in nearby Kapa‘au and Hawi town?  Read more about the HWC design and construction project here!


The Waterproofing Process

For those of you who have ever seen a Dawn commercial, you are familiar with at least one of the steps of the waterproofing process. The waterproofing process is an absolutely critical step in the rehabilitation process, especially for seabirds. Without it, you may have a bird that looks clean for the most part, but once it lands on the ocean or dives to fish it will soak up water like a sponge and get too cold to eat (and it may even sink). The reason you see birds constantly preening and bathing is because clean and waterproof feathers keep the bird warm, able to fly, weather proof and for seabirds and waterbirds able to float and dive for food.

The waterproofing process is more than just dunking a bird in soapy water and rinsing it.  It really does take experienced people and the necessary facilities to wash, rinse and monitor a bird’s waterproofing.

Here are the steps of waterproofing process:

Before the bath…
Before a bird is put through the bathing process, it must first pass a health exam. This ensures the bird is stable enough to withstand the waterproofing process. This exam involves a thorough physical exam, blood tests, and strict weight and behavior standards.  Once the bird has met all criteria of  stabilization protocol, the waterproofing process can proceed.

Step one: the bath
Did you know that birds have a body temperature of between 104-106 degrees F?  That is why we installed an on-demand hot water system with temperature control that ensures we never run out of hot water.  If you wash a bird in room temperature water, the bird runs the risk of becoming chilled and could possibly go into shock.  We take great care to make sure our water temperature is within the same range as a bird’s body temperature.

Step two: the rinse
After the bath step the bird is meticulously rinsed to ensure all feathers are clear of soap or other residue. Anything left will prevent it from becoming waterproof. Following nationally recognized wash/rinse procedures, we treat our water for hardness and give the washer/rinser control of the water pressure and temperature (this applies for both the wash and rinse stages).  Why treat the water?  Even though the water may look clean, there may be particles that are invisible to the human eye that could build up on the feathers and get in the way of the feather’s hooks and barbs, ultimately preventing the bird from waterproofing itself when it preens.

Step three: drying
After the bath and rinse, the bird is placed in a holding pen with a specialized pet dryer. This pet dryer warms the entire pen and allows the bird to dry and preen slowly.  This is where the bird must do its part by preening the hooks and barbs of each feather back in place. This can take a few days to accomplish.  We never use a hair dryer or any dryer that produces concentrated, focused heat because it will burn the bird’s skin.

Step four: the pool
This is an important step because it is the way we ensure the previous three steps has indeed helped the bird become 100% waterproof again. Only after it is determined to be back to fully waterproof will we consider releasing the bird back into the wild. HWC staff introduce the bird to one of our conditioning pools and closely monitor it to make sure it stays buoyant.  When it comes out of the pool, HWC staff also check to make sure the bird’s skin and underfeathers are dry. The amount of time the bird spends in the pool is slowly increased until we are sure that it is comfortable on the water.

Once all looks good, we begin planning for the bird’s release!

Species Fact Sheets Added

Aloha all!  It’s your friendly bird-nerd webmaster here.  I just wanted to let you know that most of the animals in our Native Species List page are now linked to fact sheets with more information about each species, including species name, conservation status, distribution, range, abundance, habitat, and current threats.  These fact sheets were created by the Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife as a part of Hawai‘i’s overall Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS).  Of course, we only have the native birds and bat fact sheets linked, but if you’d like to see the rest of the fact sheets for Hawai‘i species of greatest conservation need, definitely check out the full list on the CWCS website!  There’s a lot of great information available, so happy exploring!

Native Species List page:
CWCS Website:

Moving from Construction to Operations: Reflections on a Journey

With wildlife care already underway and our programs beginning to develop and expand, it is important to reflect on where we came from and the journey that has led to where we are today. As we soar from a construction project to a fully operational organization, we want to acknowledge and celebrate all of our founding donors who have stuck by us from the very beginning. We are excited to welcome our founding donors to the HWC Donor Wall, where they will become a permanent part of the building and organization they helped create. The Donor Wall is currently being developed and will hopefully be installed soon.

HWC President, Center Director and Founder Linda Elliott has done an amazing job of turning her passion and expertise into an organization that serves the wonderfully unique native wildlife we have in our islands. Since the HWC Grand Opening, she has expanded the HWC staff to include equally passionate, professional and experienced individuals and we’re all re ready to hit the ground running to save our native animals. So what’s next? Now that animal care has begun, project Ho‘opūlama is now a top priority. Ho‘opūlama, the development of our public space, means “to cherish” or “to save” and will feature interactive exhibits and displays that will become the heart of the HWC. If you have visited us in the past, you have probably noticed that our education pavilion and visitor’s lanai was empty. It will hopefully not be that way for very much longer!

To all our supporters, we are truly appreciative of everything you have put forth to help create Hawai‘i’s first and only state-of-the-art rescue, rehabilitation, research and education facility exclusively for and about native animals. It has been a fulfilling journey to where we are now, but we are nowhere near done. Mahalo to everyone and we hope you will stay close to us as we continue to grow!

HWC Through the Years


Wildlife Care Begins at HWC!

After years of planning, design, development and construction, the HWC is proud to announce that wildlife intake has officially begun at our brand-new, state-of-the-art native wildlife treatment facility.  Our first patient is a young Red-footed Booby from Kaua‘i and getting it to the HWC facility was a great collaborative effort between DOFAW Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i and Honolulu district offices, Kaua‘i Humane Society Save our Shearwaters Program, Hawaiian Airlines, Department of Agriculture and HWC staff.  Not only does this bird represent a great step forward for native wildlife care, it also sets the stage for further collaborations that will benefit native Hawaiian wildlife.  A special thanks to Tracy Anderson, Marilou Knight, Bongo Lee, Scott Fretz, Thomas Kaiakapu, and Dr. Joanne Woltman. If you would like to donate towards the care of sick and injured native birds like this youngster, please click on “Your Support” in the sidebar!

This is a huge milestone for HWC and your support was a big part in helping us get here.  We really appreciate all the donations, words of encouragement, love and support that poured in since this project started in 2004.  We are making a big difference together and we hope you are as excited about what we’re doing for wildlife care and rehabilitation in Hawai‘i as we are!

Update: Our first patient is doing remarkably well and has been moved to the seabird recovery aviary to strengthen its muscles.  Here’s a video of it checking out its new surroundings!

Vote online for the HWC on June 22 in the 100 Cars for Good Contest!

Aloha HWC Ohana!  On June 22, the HWC will be competing against four other organizations online at and will win a brand new Toyota if we receive the most votes that day.  This vehicle will be our primary means of transportation for bringing sick, injured or oiled wildlife to the Center for treatment and for taking healed wildlife to their release site.  Having a reliable vehicle is critical to our rescue operations and we are calling on our HWC ohana to help spread the word and support us with your vote.  Please note that voting ends at 5:59pm for Hawaii residents, so vote early!  Let’s win a car for wildlife!

What you can do:

On June 22, go to and vote for the Hawaii Wildlife Center between 4am to 5:59pm Hawaii time.  If you would like to view our video for the contest ahead of time, click here.

To sign up for a reminder to vote for the HWC before the 22nd, visit and search for the Hawaii Wildlife Center under the BROWSE ORGS tab. You will be able to request a reminder through our profile.  Mahalo!