Operation Laysan Duck a Huge Success!


The Hawaii Wildlife Center travels to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as part of a partnership to return critically endangered Laysan Ducks to Kure Atoll

Laysan DuckKapaau, HI – September 10, 2014: 

The Hawaii Wildlife Center was a part of a collaborative effort to translocate critically endangered Laysan Ducks from Midway Atoll to Kure Atoll at the the top of the Hawaiian Archipelago. This is a project that had been outlined in the Laysan Duck’s species recovery plan and has been implemented now in part due to the high number of mortalities recorded last year at Midway Atoll from avian botulism. Although once found throughout the Hawaiian island chain, Laysan Ducks faced rapidly declining numbers due to introduced predators and vegetation loss. As a result, there has been a significant amount of habitat work done on Kure, including the removal of pest plant species and predators, in order to prepare the atoll to welcome back these remarkable birds.

In late August and early September, Hawaii Wildlife Center founder, President and Center Director Linda Elliott joined representatives from the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Kure Atoll Conservancy, and the U.S. Coast Guard to bring 28 Laysan Ducks to Kure Atoll from Midway Atoll. Ms. Elliott was a part of the team responsible for the care and husbandry of the ducks during this project. Responsibilities included health exams, nutritional support, hydration, and extra biocontrols to protect the rehabilitated habitat on Kure. Also supporting the duck care on Midway and Kure was Patagonia Hawaii, who generously donated gear to HWC for the project, as well as the Honolulu Zoo, who donated the mealworms fed to the ducks in care.

Linda with Laysan Duck

[Photo] Ms. Elliott prepares a Laysan Duck for release on Kure Atoll

The Laysan Duck is the rarest duck in the Northern Hemisphere and has the smallest geographic range of any duck species in the world. Laysan Duck numbers dropped to just 12 individuals on Laysan Island in 1912 due to predators, pest species and natural disasters. The population grew slowly on Laysan, and in 2004 and 2005 the Laysan Duck was brought back to Midway from Laysan. In 2008, the Midway population was hit hard with an outbreak of avian botulism and HWC’s Linda Elliott was brought in to handle the response. Midway has since used the protocols that Ms. Elliott helped develop to provide response to additional affected ducks on the island. This project to bring them back to Kure is another step in the population rebuilding process and provides additional protection from extinction. The Laysan Duck population now exists on three islands.


Papahanaumokuakea Press Release with additional information about the project:

Photos from the translocation project:

Videos from the translocation project:


Hawaii News Now
KITV (Article, video and slideshow)
KITV (Video)
West Hawaii Today
Hawaii 24/7

The Story of HWC’s First ‘Io Chick

Many of you already know about our new patient, a little ‘Io (Hawaiian Hawk) chick admitted to the Center on November 14.

The ‘Io was found in Wainaku and reported by a resident to a member of the State Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). The resident found the chick down on the ground and waited for parents to return. When the parents were not seen and it started to rain, DOFAW was called in to help.

Once it was in DOFAW’s care, HWC staff worked with a DOFAW staff member to attempt to return the chick to its parents. The chick was brought back to the area it was found and was monitored to see if the parents returned. Unfortunately there were no easily accessible perching spots to get the little ‘Io off the ground and it was reported that a minimum of five cats were patrolling the area, posing an immediate threat to the young bird. Although the optimal goal was to reunite the chick with its parents, high risks and the fact that the young ‘Io was underweight led to the collaborative decision to bring it to the Center.

Io wrapped up

The little ‘Io chick brought to HWC

After some time to rest, the ‘Io was given a complete intake exam by HWC staff. It was feisty, as it should be, and was provided a much-needed meal. The ‘Io was given the name Keawe in honor of local musician and longtime HWC supporter John Keawe. Keawe is the name of a southern star, said to be named for an ancient chief.

mealtime for Io

Keawe deciding if it wants to go for more. Its crop is already getting full!

The ‘Io is an endangered species, the only hawk in Hawai‘i and only found on Hawai‘i Island. Not only is Keawe being given a second chance at life, his care is also giving us an important opportunity to protect the population of these birds.

Since he came to us as a young chick, Keawe will require many months of feeding and behavioral enhancement to prepare it for adulthood and release back into the wild. If you would like to give a gift to support its care, please join the Keawe Care ‘ohana. To join the Keawe Care ‘ohana, simply donate a minimum of $25 online via PayPal, click “Add” next to Gift Options (under shipping address) and type “Keawe Care” in the message box. If you would like to donate with a check, please download our donation form and include a note that you’d like to be included in the Keawe Care ‘ohana (please note the $25 minimum also applies). Keawe Care ‘ohana members will receive a special photo of Keawe at the Center and a certificate acknowledging your contribution.

We’ll keep you posted on his progress!

‘Auku‘u Release, May 15, 2013

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!


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!