Nihoa Miller Birds Sent to Laysan to Prevent Possible Extinction
A critically endangered species called the Nihoa Miller bird, named after the miller moths that primarily make up its diet, is having a sample of its remaining fluctuating population moved to a neighbor island in hopes of preservation. The nearby island is called Laysan, and is one of many in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. A similar species that has actually become extinct lived on the nearby island and were called the Laysan Miller birds. The Laysan species became extinct when an introduced species of European rabbits found their way onto the island and ate all of the natural vegetation, and after the vegetation on the island was gone there were no more insects for the Miller bird to eat. It was a hard lesson in how effecting one small thing in an ecosystem can have disastrous results. Introducing a foreign species of animal can wipe out one very important aspect of an ecosystem, which then trickles down to effect the ecosystem as whole. This is one reason that Hawaii is so careful when it comes to foreign species of anything coming to the islands. The Miller Bird is an extremely rare species, and can only be found on this one little islet. Their species is counted once a year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and it usually varies anywhere from about 200-700. As an effort to preserve the species it was decided to move a sample of the population from Nihoa Island to Laysan Island. The thought process is that if there were a natural disaster or disease outbreak on Nihoa the species would most likely be completely wiped out, but if there were another group on another island it would protect the species from such an event. The project took about 5 years and 852,000 dollars to complete. Scientists hand selected 12 males and 12 females from a group of 32 captured birds. The 24 Nihoa Miller birds were released on Laysan on September 10, and reports suggest that the birds are enjoying their new home so far.