Dark Night of the Shearwater

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Dark Night of the Shearwater

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Kauai
Oct 27, 2011

The sun sets tonight at 6:04. Too early, if you ask me. Of course, if Hawaii participated in Daylight Savings Time, the sun would set even earlier, really cramping my evening activities. No sunset walks along the beach. No mowing the yard. No playing fetch with the dogs. I’ve been running across stories on the topic of happiness lately, so I suppose I should be grateful that I do not live in a place where the sun sets even earlier than 6:00 p.m. And, believe me, I am. (Still, I whine.)

There’s another positive to early sunsets. By the time I take the dogs for the pre-bed walk around the yard, the sky has had enough time to get really dark, and the stars are shining to beat the band. I look up. Search for the Big Dipper and, like Cheryl taught me at Nu’alolo Kai, I arc to Arcturus. I locate the North Star. I can spot Orion’s Belt pretty easily. The Milky Way on good nights.

But nights like tonight—the dark nights of the new moon—aren’t so great for the endangered Newell’s Shearwater on Kauai. Especially the fledglings. They fly for their first time around now, leaving their nests high in the mountains and using the reflection of the moon to guide them to the sea. On dark nights, when the moon is new, these fledglings mistake the bright lights of civilization for that of the moon. They circle around areas they shouldn’t be. Areas with electrical lines. Areas with complicated electrical arrays. Tall street lamps. Telephone poles. And exhaustion sets in. Collisions occur. Many, mostly chicks, fall from the sky.

So, during this new moon and November’s on Kauai, where the majority of this seabird’s population lives, it’s especially important to:

1) Turn off outside lights.
2) Pick up downed birds and take them to an aid station. Or call 808-632-0610.


You can read more about the endangered Newell's Shearwater here.


Sheila | Nov 17, 2011 01:47 PM

Oh my goodness! Does this happen in large numbers?

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