17 Jun Five Months In And Waist Deep Saving Birds

Half-way through her extended internship program, Rebecca Pederson shares on her life changing experience working with Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project.

Far From Home

A little over five months ago, I was on a plane heading to Maui from Colorado. I had spent most of my life in Colorado, so moving was definitely going to be a new experience for me. This move was not only scary, but was necessary. I was ready for a change in my life. I had only visited Maui once before 10 years ago, but could not pass up this wonderful experience. These last five months have not been disappointing.

Just Another Day At The Office

Rebecca-ShearwaterI started my internship off at a fast pace working to protect the seabirds of Maui Nui. The second week I was out in the field helping banding chicks that had hatched in August. By the second month, I was traveling around the island with my coworkers picking up downed birds and releasing them back to the ocean. One day my coworker and I were called about a downed ʻUaʻu Kani (Wedged-Tailed Shearwater, Ardenna pacific) in the morning. After we released the bird, we headed back to the office. On our way back, we received another call about a downed bird, but this one was an ʻUaʻu (Hawaiian Petrel, Pterodroma sandwichensis). I was pretty excited to get to pick one up. We have only saw a few during this past season.

After we picked up the petrel from our partners at MISC (Maui Invasive Species Committee), we cruised over to an uncrowded beach down the street. My coworker banded the petrel, while I held it. Once the bird was banded, we placed it on top of the sand facing the ocean. It took a while for the bird to realize where it was. After its failed attempt to fly from the ground, I took it up into my hands, so that the bird could spread its wings and feel the wind. The petrel took off right away from my hands, but flew too low and landed right into the water near shore. If they are too close to the shore, they could get caught in the surf. Without thinking I started to take off my shoes to get into the water to grab the petrel. As I ran toward the water, I realized that my phone and wallet were still in my pockets. I quickly tossed them into the sand and headed into the water.

Rebecca-PetrelWhen I reached the petrel, the water was to my waist and the bird was swimming and drinking water around me. I picked it up out of the water and brought it back to the shore. Again I took it into my hands and it flew right away. This time it did not land in the water, but flew over the water and out of sight over the horizon. My pants were soaked, but that didn’t bother me. When I got back into the office, my supervisor questioned why I was wet. I replied, “Just another day of saving endangered wildlife.”

Looking Forward

I have had many more great experiences and opportunities since I started. I was able to go to Oʻahu for a week for my service project trip. It was fun helping out the Waiʻanae Mountain Watershed Project by pulling up invasive species and planting native ones. I was also able to meet and become friends with other Kupu Interns. I was even able to go to Molokini twice. In addition to my own work, I have been able to help out with other Kupu’s host sites. I am sad that these last five months have flown by so quickly; however, I am excited for the experiences that I will gain in the next five months.


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