HONOLULU — Wildlife agencies say two native bird populations on Maui have declined by more than half.
Fewer than 312 Maui parrotbills and 2,411 crested honeycreepers remain in the wild.
The U.S. Geological Survey, the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife and other agencies published the finding in a new interagency monitoring report.
There are 50% fewer of the two Hawaiian honeycreeper species than in previous population estimates, the report said.
“Without intervention, these changes are projected to cause population decline and additional extinction of the remaining Hawaiian forest birds,” Hannah Mounce of the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project said in a published statement.
The two endangered species are endemic to Maui and are found only within a surveyed area in the eastern part of the island, the agencies said.
There are plans to reintroduce the parrotbills, also known as kiwikiu, to the Nakula Natural Area Reserve in the southern and western regions of Maui this fall. In preparation for the reintroduction, more than 200,000 native plants have been planted in the Nakula and Kahikinui forest reserves since 2013, official said.
Studies over decades found multiple threats to the birds including disease, depredation and habitat degradation. Avian malaria is the most significant long-term threat to Hawaii’s native birds and the disease is spreading because of climate change, experts said.
“It is urgent that we move forward with the recovery efforts for these species,” Mounce said. “If we wait for much longer, we will not have these species left to save.”