Volunteering at HWC

Living808 visited HWC as part of Hawaii Island Week at KHON2.
For the full story, visit http://khon2.com/2016/04/28/hawaii-island-week-hawaii-wildlife-center-2/

Visit our Volunteer Opportunities page for more information about our volunteer program and to download a volunteer application form!

Mahalo Trini and the KHON crew!

2013 Impact Summary

This year marked the one-year anniversary of operations at the Hawaii Wildlife Center!  Thanks to the vital support of many donors like you and the dedicated sponsorship of our grantors, we have made remarkable strides forward in our programs this first year of operations, including our wildlife services, training programs, and research and educational partnerships.

Wildlife Services

On the wildlife services side, we have begun to set the standard for exceptional wildlife care, focusing on providing a quality, professional and science-based rehabilitation program that meets and exceeds national standards. There was no facility or organization that had met minimum standards before HWC in the Pacific Islands region, so this has been vital to the availability of care for sick or injured native birds and bats. Being a statewide resource, we have received wildlife in need of care from all main Hawaiian Islands and have expanded the number of heroic volunteer pilots in our air transport program to accommodate the increasing calls for response to sick and injured wildlife on neighbor islands. Our expertise and consultation services have also been utilized by the Pacific Islands, including Rota in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan and American Samoa.

We have had 16 different species come through the Center this year, 5 of which were endangered, from all main Hawaiian Islands. The cases we saw were varied and ranged from animal attacks, impact injuries, car casualties, seabird fallout, or orphaned young chicks. We also fielded many wildlife response calls that came from throughout the State and worked with the Division of Forestry and Wildlife to facilitate the proper response. We have also been under heavy demand for wildlife response and conservation programs.

Programs serving the Hawaiian Archipelago included:

  • Led 5-island (Maui, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Hawaii) avian botulism preparedness program with approximate 150 attendees (30 per island)
  • Assisted (and continue to assist) the Save our Shearwaters program on Kauai with wildlife response
  • Gave a seabird response protocol presentation to Pulama Lanai
  • Provided consultation to Midway for care and rehabilitation of White Terns
  • Led a wildlife oil spill response training for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Programs serving the Pacific Islands included:

  • Taught a wildlife rehabilitation training course with biologists from American Samoa.
  • Assisted Rota (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) in response to a seabird die-off. Provided ongoing consultation and shipped response supplies.
  • Assisted (and continue to assist) Saipan with seabird rehabilitation
  • Provided consultation to Palmyra for care of wildlife

Research and Education

On the research and education front, we have expanded our collaboration with multiple research projects involving native species, many of which are focused on seabirds. We have also continued our partnership with the Kohala Middle School and have accommodated other school programs when staff availability allowed. We are now in the process of developing a master plan for our public area (courtyard, education pavilion, native garden and lawn), which will include interpretive and interactive exhibits highlighting the work at the Center and Hawaii’s native species. Once the exhibits are complete, we will be able to accommodating the rapidly growing demand for field trips from school groups.

Research projects we are currently assisting include:

  • Endangered seabird genetics (Smithsonian)
  • Plastics in seabirds (Hawaii Pacific University)
  • Rodenticide toxicology study (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
  • Biomonitoring of environmental contaminants in Pacific seabirds and other marine organisms (National Institute of Standards and Technology)

Our education programs this year included:

  • Guest presentation to the University of Hawaii (UH) Hilo Marine Options Program
  • Participation in the first annual Conservation Career Day at UH Hilo
  • Participation in career day at Kohala Middle School
  • Collaboration with Kohala Middle School Hale Ike for service project
  • Led educational field trip for a class of approximately 20 students from Holualoa Elementary
  • Created educational display at the Thelma Parker Memorial Public Library in Waimea
  • Participated in community events including Earth Day in Kona, Kamehameha Day in Kohala, Science Alive! at Bishop Museum and Palila Palooza at Imiloa Astronomy Center.

Volunteer Program and Professional Partnerships

Our volunteer program has also continued to grow. We have about 40 active volunteers currently and the number of volunteer applications has been increasing as we step up our recruitment. Our volunteer air and ground transport program (known as the Wings and Wheels for Wildlife) has continued to develop as well. In response, we have formalized our volunteer program, including specialized volunteer trainings and schedules when necessary.

Our conference attendance and working group participation has continued to increase as well. The HWC continues to participate in the Hawaii Conservation Conference, with over 1,000 attendees, and continues to be active in response planning with the Hawaii Area Committee. The HWC was also recently invited to present at the first annual Big Island Conservation Forum, speaking to a group of over 200 individuals in conservation on Hawaii Island. In addition, President and Center Director Linda Elliott has just participated in and was a presenter at the Wetlands & Waterbird Workshop on Oahu. Articles written by HWC were also published in the Pacific Seabird Group journal and Elepaio, the journal of the Hawaii Audubon Society. Our native garden at the Center was certified as wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and an article about the HWC was included in the latest issue of the National Wildlife Federation Magazine as well.

Visitor Stats

We also saw our public impact and visitor statistics continue to soar. This year to date, we have had nearly 1,000 visitors to our facility, have given over 200 tours and answered well over 2,000 questions about native wildlife, wildlife response and our work at the Center. Visitors came from all over and ranged from local residents to national and international visitors.

In Summary…

Overall, we have definitely been busy this past year! The HWC has elevated the standards of wildlife care in Hawaii and our qualifications, experience and professional reputation has allowed us to connect with many individuals, groups and companies interested in our services and impressed by our reach and impact. We couldn’t have done it all without the support of our ‘ohana; the donors, volunteers, partners, and supporters that give us the momentum we need to keep moving forward. Next year holds even more exciting things and we need your help to keep the progress going. Please celebrate all that we have accomplished so far and support us in 2014 by making a gift today! Click here to donate.

Mahalo nui everyone! Here’s to a wonderful 2014!

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!


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!