FREEMAN SEABIRD PRESERVE
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In September 2007, the Hawaii Audubon Society was given a one-acre coastal property at Black Point on the southern coast of Oahu thanks to an unprecedented gift from the Houghton Freeman Foundation. This parcel has long been a nesting area for a colony of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters ('uau kani, Puffinus pacificus) and is the only habitat of its kind for Wedge-tailed Shearwaters remaining on O'ahu's south shore. The restoration of this property from a vacant residential property into a native coastal habitat has been the ongoing project of the Hawaii Audubon Society.
Each year, volunteers continue to remove invasive plants from the Preserve, which is a never-ending task that must be accomplished during the 3-month period from January through March when there are no Shearwaters in residence. Work is also done to open up blocked burrows, clean and remove litter from the area, and conduct any necesary predator control. Population monitoring of the colony is conducted by Dr. David Hyrenbach, Hawaii Pacific University Assistant Professor of Oceanography and his students.
Wedge-tailed Shearwaters are named for the shape of their tail and feeding habit of soaring low above the waves in an undulating pattern. These seabirds nest in colonies along coasts and on offshore islands in sandy soil areas. They will nest in crevices in laval flows and under vegetation offering shade. Adults arrive in March to mate and prepare their burrows then lay a single white egg usually in June. Toward the end of October, the young are fledging and come out of their burrows. They leave and fly out to sea by November. Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, like all seabirds, are fully protected by both Federal (Migratory Bird Treaty Act) and State law (Wild Bird Law). They are not considered a threatened or endangered species. To learn more about the "wedgies," listen to this 7-minute interview of Dr. Hyrenbach by Hawaii Public Radio from July 17, 2013 about these fascinating seabirds and the Preserve.