Because the nene is endangered, the death of even one bird in Haleakala National Park due to careless driving is too many. But on Dec. 26, a driver accidentally killed a nesting female, which is much, much worse.
The accident happened on the downhill side of the park road near Headquarters Visitor Center, according to a Dec. 29 Haleakala National Park news release. Park officials were able to determine that the bird was nesting because it “had a brood patch (featherless area on its underside used to transfer heat to eggs).” The whereabouts of the bird’s nest remain unknown.
“The eggs now have a much lower chance of survival,” said Pauline Angelakis, the park’s chief of interpretation, in that news release. “The loss of one nene affects generations. Driving slowly and cautiously is the easiest, most significant action we can all take to protect this endangered species.”
But a follow-up email sent out this morning was far less hopeful. In fact, Angelakis now says that the eggs are most likely doomed.
“The eggs in the nest *will die* due to the death of this nene,” Pauline Angelakis wrote in a follow-up email this morning. “Only the female incubates the eggs. Even if we find the nest there are no facilities on Maui that could incubate the eggs. There are typically 2-5 eggs per nest.”
Angelakis’ news releases stated that this is the first nene killed during the 2014-2015 nesting season. Inattentive drivers killed four and six nene, respectively, during the two previous nesting seasons.
Photo courtesy Haleakala National Park