The Birds of the Hawaiian Islands:
Occurrence, History, Distribution, and Status

Robert L. Pyle and Peter Pyle

Hawaiian Island Breeding Seabird Population Estimates

Over 3 million pairs of seabirds are estimated to breed in the Hawaiian Islands annually. We present on this page three tables summarizing estimates for each breeding seabird species by island or island-group colony, for the Northewstern Hawaiian Islands, the Southeastern Hawaiian Islands, and the islets along the northeastern coast of O'ahu. Estimates represent breeding pairs and were taken from a variety of sources, beginning with the last systematic surveys of all colonies, undertaken by the POSPB in the Northwestern Hawaiian islands during the 1960s and updated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1984 (Fefer et al. 1987; estimates repeated, with many updates to Southeastern Island populations, in Harrison 1990). POBSP results on colony size as well as breeding phenology and a review of the history of colony sizes can be found in the Atoll Research Bulletins for each Island: Kure (Woodward 1972), Pearl and Hermes (Amerson et al. 1974), Lisiansky (Clapp and Wirtz 1975), Laysan (Ely and Clapp 1973), Gardner Pinnacles (Clapp 1972), French Frigate Shoals (Amerson 1971), Necker (Clapp and Kridler 1977), and Nihoa (Clapp et al. 1977).

Other sources on population estimates published during the 2000s, and used to update these totals, include BNA accounts (Poole and Gill 1993-2009), VanderWerf and David (2000), USFWS (2005b), Naughton et al. (2007), Flint (2008), BLI (2009), and Keller et al. (2009); along with information on specific colonies published in the species accounts. It should be noted that colony sizes can fluctuate greatly from year to year, and are generally very difficult to estimate for large colonies and for burrow-nesting species. When a series of estimates was available the values in the tables may reflect an average for multiple recent years, or may reflect estimates from the late 2000s for populations that were trending upward or downward. In many cases numbers were rounded so as not to reflect more accuracy than can realistically be expected. In the following tables, B represents a species known to breed on the island in historic times (since 1778) but not known to be breeding during the 2000s, and M indicates that the species has been recorded on the island or island group but is not known to breed there.

Literature Cited

Click on species name for text account

NORTHWESTERN HAWAIIAN ISLANDS BREEDING SEABIRD POPULATIONS (PAIRS)
COMMON NAME NWHI Kure Midway P & H Lisianski Laysan G. P. FFS Necker Nihoa
Laysan Albatross 602,600 14,600 400,000 7,000 26,500 150,000 M 4,000 500 B
Black-footed Albatross 61,530 2,500 24,000 6,100 2,100 21,000   5,700

100

30
Bonin Petrel 396,150 600 125,000 500 200,000 70,000   50    
Bulwer Petrel 92,370 10 10 10 75 1,500 15 350 400 90,000
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 228,800 7,500 5,000 7,500 20,000 150,000 50 1,750 2,000 35,000
Christmas Shearwater 2,815 100 200 10 500 1,750   30 M 225
Tristram Storm-Petrel 6,030 5 10 500 M 2,500   15 M 3,000
White-tailed Tropicbird 5 M 5     M   M   M
Red-tailed Tropicbird 12,800 1,150 7,500 50 1,100 2,000 25 575 125 275
Masked Booby 2,215 70 5 150 325 425 140 550 275 275
Brown Booby 425 55 B 55 20 35 10 50 25 175
Red-footed Booby 7,450 1,500 475 50 300 275 M 2,500 600 1,750
Great Frigatebird 10,345 225 70 350 800 3,500 M 600 800 4,000
Lesser Frigatebird B M M     M   B    
COMMON NAME
NWHI Kure Midway P & H Lisianski Laysan G.P. FFS Necker Nihoa
Brown Noddy 76,250 1,000 1,000 2,000 10,000 12,500 1,250 5,500 13,000 30,000
Black Noddy 15,050 50 4,000 100 750 2,000 250 4,000 400 3,500
Blue-gray Noddy 3,780         M 15 15 1,250 2,500
White Tern 25,215 150 20,000 15 75 1000 200 75 200 3,500
Sooty Tern 1,190,400 10,000 100,000 40,000 500,000 425,000 400 75,000 20,000 20,000
Gray-backed Tern 43,225 25 1,000 700 17,500 7,500 2,000 500 4,000 10,000
Little Tern B M B B   M   M    
Least Tern B   B     M   M    
 
TOTALS 2,777,455 39,540 688,275 65,090 780,045 850,985 4,355 101,260 43,675 204,230

P & H = Pearl and Hermes; G.P = Gardner Pinnacles; FFS = French Frigate Shoals

Click on species name for text account

SOUTHEASTERN HAWAIIAN ISLANDS BREEDING SEABIRD POPULATIONS (PAIRS)
COMMON NAME SEHI Ni'ihau Kaua'i O'ahu Moloka'i Lana'i Kaho'olawe Maui Hawai'i
Laysan Albatross 650 300 275 75 M     M M
Black-footed Albatross 30 30 M M          
Hawaiian Petrel 2,760 M 1,200 M 50 600 10 750 150
Bulwer Petrel 1,100 100 30 425 50 45 50 300 100
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 67,350 25,000 5,000 30,550 1,600 300 200 4,300 400
Christmas Shearwater 165 110   55 M     M  
Newell Shearwater 10,305 5 10,000 M 50 M   50 200
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel 240 M 200 M       M 40
White-tailed Tropicbird 1,550 B 750 75 250 75 M 150 250
Red-tailed Tropicbird 980 500 350 55 10 35 30 M M
Masked Booby 330 300 M 30 M     M M
Brown Booby 1,000 900 B 100 M M B M M
Red-footed Booby 4,950 1,750 2,500 700          
Great Frigatebird B M M B M     M  
Brown Noddy 42,010 20,000   22,010          
Black Noddy 1,785 150 400 160 350 75 250 200 200
White Tern 835 35   800          
Sooty Tern 135,000 45,000   90,000          
Gray-backed Tern 575 550   25          
 
TOTALS 271,615 94,730 20,705 145,060 2,360 1,130 540 5,750 1,340

Ni'ihau totals include Lehua Islet and Kaula Rock

Click on species name for text account

OAHU ISLETS, HAWAIIAN ISLANDS, BREEDING SEABIRD POPULATIONS (PAIRS)
COMMON NAME Moku-auia Mokoli'i Kapapa Kakepa Moku- manu Moko-leia Popoia Moku-luas Manana Kaohi-kaipu
Bulwer Petrel     10 10 100 10 125 150 10 10
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 2,500 200 300   2,000   1,500 10,000 12,000 400
Christmas Shearwater         50     5    
White-tailed Tropicbird   2                
Red-tailed Tropicbird         10       15  
Masked Booby         30          
Brown Booby         100          
Red-footed Booby         200          
Great Frigatebird         B          
Brown Noddy         2,000 10     20,000  
Black Noddy         75 20     10 5
Sooty Tern         15,000       75,000  
Gray-backed Tern         25          
 
TOTALS 2,500 202 310 10 19,590 40 1,625 10,155 107,025 415

Version 1 completed Dec 2009 and will not be updated for content until Version 2 is posted (typos and bad links may be fixed). Plans are to complete Version 2 sometime in 2011-2013, with further updated versions to be completed every 2-4 years thereafter. Comments, errors, typos, bad links, updated information, any other suggestions: Please contact Peter Pyle at ppyle@bishopmuseum.org.

Citation: Pyle, R.L., and P. Pyle. 2009. The Birds of the Hawaiian Islands: Occurrence, History, Distribution, and Status. B.P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, HI, U.S.A. Version 1 (31 December 2009) http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/birds/rlp-monograph

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