East Hawaii News

Tristram’s Storm-Petrels Make Return to Midway Atoll

May 2, 2016, 3:22 PM HST
* Updated May 2, 3:40 PM
Listen to this Article
2 minutes
Loading Audio...

A seabird species previously wiped out from Midway Atoll haz returned.

Tristram’s storm-petrels have been documented for the first time successfully nesting on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Scientists say the birds were previously wiped off Midway Atoll.

At the beginning of February 2016, Tristram adults were initially heard calling in flight.

David Dow, a volunteer with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, investigated and was able to pinpoint areas where the adult seabirds were on the ground.


Six burrows with potential breeding activity were noted by Dow.


Seabird researchers Dan Rapp and Sarah Youngren with Conservation Metrics Inc. used a wireless infrared burrow camera in the active area and detected the presence of three healthy chicks on March 22.

The confirmed chick count increased to four for the Atoll after a nest was discovered on Eastern Island on April 24.

“Now that Midway Atoll Refuge is completely rat free, these chicks are safe from the threat of rats preying on their eggs or newly hatched chicks,” said Refuge Manager, Robert Peyton. “Broadcasting calls through a social attraction station positioned in habitat we restored with plantings of kāwelu (native bunch grass) have been part of our ongoing management practices for years. To be able to know that work paid off to help this vulnerable species survive is very encouraging.”


The birds breed in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and on islands that have similar latitudes in the Japanese archipelago.

At night, the Tristram’s storm petrels are active in their breeding colonies, nesting in the ground.

While at sea, the relatively small 2.5 ounce solid black bird is rarely observed, making their distance for foraging widely unknown.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature status of this species is Near Threatened due to their limited breeding range.

Tristram storm-petrels may have nested throughout the Hawaiian archipelago prior to the introduction of non-native mammals and habitat degradation. With this recent discovery, Tristram’s storm-petrels now nest throughout the entire Northwestern Hawaiian Islands within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Mahalo for Subscribing


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments