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Birds on Life Support

July 10, 2014

Hawaii’s birds face multiple threats, but one small thrush on the island of Kaua’i is a success story – so far.



Birds on life support. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

One of Hawaii’s last remaining thrushes, the Puaiohi, has always been rare. But the little brown bird teetered dangerously close to extinction in the 1990s. The good news is, the population has more than doubled in size since a captive breeding program began in 1996. Richard Switzer is an ecologist with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

RICHARD SWITZER (San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research):

We’d like to think that at least what we’ve done is we’ve kept the population afloat; we’d like to think that the population is now in the outpatients’ department.


But to keep the Puaiohi off of life support in the long-term, Switzer says more must be done to restore the bird’s habitat, and to protect it from disease exposure, which is increasing with the rise of global warming.


The real solution will come from doing more to restore the ecosystem.


I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.