Updated: November 26, 2022
Haleakalā National Park host an ʻUaʻu Night this Saturday, May 21 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. outside of the Haleakalā Visitor Center at 9,740 feet.
The public is invited to join wildlife biologists and park rangers to learn more about these special inhabitants that return to the summit of Haleakalā at this time of year.
The ʻuaʻu or Hawaiian petrel (Pterodroma sanwichensis) are endemic to Hawaiʻi, meaning they are only found in Hawaiʻi and nowhere else. Haleakalā National Park is home to the largest known nesting colony of ʻuaʻu in the world, with over 2,700 nests.
The National Park Service, Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project, and other conservation groups help maintain a safe haven for these rare and endangered birds.
Park biologists have worked to protect this species since the early 1990s. Surprisingly, fences are one of the main reasons ʻuaʻu are recovering. “Fences are critical to keep feral ungulates from destroying native habitat needed by these ground-nesting seabirds,” said wildlife biologist Joy Tamayose.
“Haleakalā National Park biologists have worked diligently over the past 30 years to protect and enhance the ʻuaʻu population in the park. These efforts, along with state and other efforts outside the park, are showing signs of increasing the numbers of ʻuaʻu,” said Jay Penniman, Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project Manager.
These birds are unique and memorable inhabitants of the park. If you listen carefully, they are known to “say” their name, “ooh-ah-ooh,” throughout the night during the spring and summer months at the summit of Haleakalā.
ʻUaʻu also use the stars to navigate on long trips over the open ocean. Because they depend on stars, they are increasingly susceptible to the impacts of light pollution, which can disorient them as they make their way home.
To decrease light pollution, concerned residents and business can turn off unnecessary lights, close blinds at night, install motion sensors and timers for outdoor lighting, use lights that are less bright, use lights with color temperatures of 3000K or less, and shield lights so it is only directed where it’s needed.
Everyone can help protect these unique birds in the park by driving slowly and stopping for any wildlife on the road, especially at night or during sunrise and sunset hours.