Feral cats (Felis cafus) have long been implicated as nest predators of endangered 'Ua'u (Hawaiian Petrel; Pterodroma sandwichensis) on Hawaii Island, but until recently, visual confirmation has been limited by available technology. 'Ua'u nest out of view, deep inside small cavities, on alpine lava flows. During the breeding seasons of 2007 and 2008, we monitored known burrows within Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Digital infrared video cameras assisted in determining the breeding behaviour and nesting success at the most isolated of burrows. With 7 cameras, we collected a total of 819 videos and 89 still photographs of adult and nestling 'Ua'u at 14 burrows. Videos also confirmed the presence of rats (Rattus spp.) at 2 burrows, 'Ōmao (Myadestes obscurus) at 8 burrows, and feral cats at 6 burrows. A sequence of videos showed a feral cat taking a downy 'Ua'u chick from its burrow, representing the first direct evidence of 'Ua'u depredation by feral cat in Hawai'i. This technique provides greater understanding of feral cat behaviour in 'Ua'u colonies, which may assist in the development of more targeted management strategies to reduce nest predation on endangered insular bird species.
Additional publication details
Videographic evidence of endangered species depredation by feral cat