- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - Federally protected seabirds are being moved from a military base on Kauai to safer nesting areas.

Hawaii’s Pacific Missile Range Facility poses a threat to the Laysan albatross because of the possibility for collisions between the birds and military aircraft, reported The Garden Island (https://bit.ly/2jIPDjf ).

Pacific Rim Conservation recently removed 33 albatross eggs from nests near the facility and took them to new homes on Oahu. Six of those eggs are expected to start hatching in about a week.

The range facility “is not a safe place to nest,” said Eric VanderWerf, who is with the conservation group. “And we want more albatross. We’re trying to create a new colony.”

Most of the eggs have been placed at the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve, although some are in incubators until foster nests are found.

This is the conservation group’s third annual relocation from the base. Staff members relocated 45 eggs in each of the last two years of the program.

VanderWerf said fewer eggs were moved this year, in part because there are not as many breeding pairs at the base.

“The albatross that nest there aren’t allowed to reproduce and as the adults there get older, they’ll stop reproducing or die off,” VanderWerf said. “It’s a way to slowly reduce the size of the colony without having to kill birds or eggs.”

The group is also including black-footed albatross in the program this year and will pick up 15 of those birds next month.

“That’s a species that’s even more threatened by sea level rise than Laysan albatross because the vast majority of them are on the low lying atolls that are already washed over,” VanderWerf said.

The chicks from both species will be transferred to the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on Oahu.

“Then the real work begins,” VanderWerf said. “We feed them by hand for five months.”

Albatross chicks imprint on their birth location and return there to have their own young. Fledglings don’t start returning to their birthplace for a year or two and then start nesting once they are between five and eight years old.

Albatross are known to live 60 years or more.

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Information from: The Garden Island, https://thegardenisland.com/

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