A female nene was struck and killed by a vehicle December 26 on the downhill side of the Haleakala National Park road near headquarters and the visitor center. What makes the sad news even more tragic is that the endangered bird was nesting at the time. That means that – even if wildlife experts could locate the nest – there are no facilities on Maui that could incubate the eggs. Only the female incubates eggs in the nest, even though nene mate for life and share many responsibilities. Typically a nest will hold two to five eggs.
“The eggs now have a much lower chance of survival,” said park chief of interpretation Polly Angelakis. “The loss of one nēnē affects generations. Driving slowly and cautiously is the easiest, most significant action we can all take to protect this endangered species.” In all likelihood, the eggs will spoil and the unborn chicks will die. The dead bird was discovered at 7:15 on the morning after Christmas. The bird had a “brood patch,” a featherless area on the female nene’s underside used to transfer heat to eggs – proof that the bird was nesting and likely in search of food when the accident happened.
This is the first nēnē killed in the 2014-2015 nesting season. During the two previous nesting seasons four and six nēnē, respectively, were killed by cars on park roads. The park has created a printable poster and encourages the public to heed the simple warning that could save lives.