Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Magnifying the passion for nature. Zeiss Victory Harpia 95. New!

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread
Old Wednesday 31st August 2016, 04:14   #1
Tsunamispeakershawks
Registered User
 
Tsunamispeakershawks's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 106
Volcano watch

White-tailed tropicbirds have been nesting in Halemaumau Crater at the Big Island of Hawaii for quite some time. It is about 10 miles fly to their feeding grounds. It is an active crater with a vent with active lava lake. Apparently the birds have been nesting there to avoid mongoose who are eating their eggs. OK, but still, in this video I filmed on August 24, 2016 the birds seem to be flying back and forth close , if not over, that lava lake. Why? They have such a long way to reach the ocean, so what are they trying to achieve flying over that sulfur and extreme heat that probably would kill a human in a matter of minutes.
https://youtu.be/1HYJauf-iNM

Thank you.
Tsunamispeakershawks is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 31st August 2016, 08:52   #2
Nutcracker
Northumbrian

 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 14,315
Louse / flea control? Drying the plumage?
Nutcracker is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 31st August 2016, 16:26   #3
Tsunamispeakershawks
Registered User
 
Tsunamispeakershawks's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutcracker View Post
Louse / flea control? Drying the plumage?
So, you're suggesting that the birds might have actually learned to use the volcano to their benefits? It is a very interesting idea. Do you know about any other example, in which birds using some unusual local circumstances to benefit themselves? I am saying "unusual" because although Halema`uma`u crater has produced sulfur dioxide for many, many years, this particular vent opened in March of 2008, and the lava first appeared there in September of 2008. The last time before that this particular crater was erupting between 1967 and 1968. By the way this 2008 vent has doubled sulfur dioxide emission rates, and sometimes the sulfur dioxide emission is so bad that the nearby villages must be evacuated.

Also there's another interesting fact from 1961

Quote:
Up to 15 pairs have regularly nested in Halemaumau
Crater, Volcano NP, where they occasionally succumb to eruptions or bursts of sulfur emissions (Dunmire 1961).
which I found here http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/birds/rl...-GRUI/WTTR.pdf

So, it looks that the birds keep using their nesting site no matter what.
Do you know about any other birds that are nesting inside an active crater?

Thank you.

Last edited by Tsunamispeakershawks : Wednesday 31st August 2016 at 16:29.
Tsunamispeakershawks is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 31st August 2016, 17:36   #4
Nutcracker
Northumbrian

 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 14,315
No idea, unfortunately! I was only just speculating about possible reasons, that would need to be tested against the evidence.
Nutcracker is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 10th September 2016, 01:53   #5
bkrownd
Registered User
 
bkrownd's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Waiakea, East Hawai'i
Posts: 1,439
Blog Entries: 317
They also use other pit craters of various size in that region, not just the caldera.They like cliffs, and the craters provide those. Cruising to the upper regions of Kilauea is a short flight compared to some other sea birds that fly up to nest above 8000 feet elevation on Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and East Maui.
__________________
Range: East Hawai'i, 3200-13800 feet elevation
Please help monitor bird distributions @ http://www.ebird.org
bkrownd is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2010 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Monday 12th September 2016, 03:15   #6
Tsunamispeakershawks
Registered User
 
Tsunamispeakershawks's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by bkrownd View Post
They also use other pit craters of various size in that region, not just the caldera.They like cliffs, and the craters provide those. Cruising to the upper regions of Kilauea is a short flight compared to some other sea birds that fly up to nest above 8000 feet elevation on Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and East Maui.
Yes, they nest in cliffs, but it does not explain why they are flying repeatedly back and forth over this lava lake and why they nest in the caldera with so much sulfur? I mean there are many much less active crates at Kilauea.

I slowed down a part of my video, and you could clearly see one bird flying inside the pit crater with the lava lake, and I did not see this bird getting out. Maybe she got out , but it was outside of my camera view

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qSROTL17QHM

I've also done some recearch on other birds nesting inside active volcanos, and there are some. Also I have read a testimony of some people who observed birds flying into flames of erupting volcano at Kamchatka during night time. They compared these birds to moths who are flying to lamps. I've also read about birds that are nesting close to geysers. When geysers erupt the hot water gets under rocks with the nests, and eggs are kept warm. The parents only need to turn them, but not to sit on them. Maybe the walls of Halema'uma'u are also warm, and eggs get incubated with little effort?

A geologist from Hawaii emailed me his observation of tropicbirds:

Quote:
Many of us have watched birds circle down to as close to the lava as they can get, and then ride up the updraft of the fume column up for hundreds of meters. Then, when the birds no longer can rise effortlessly, they will circle back down and do it all over again. They give the impression of simply enjoying the experience.
Anyway for now it remains a mystery what seabirds are archiving flying over hot lava.

Last edited by Tsunamispeakershawks : Monday 12th September 2016 at 03:23.
Tsunamispeakershawks is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 13th September 2016, 23:10   #7
bkrownd
Registered User
 
bkrownd's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Waiakea, East Hawai'i
Posts: 1,439
Blog Entries: 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsunamispeakershawks View Post
Yes, they nest in cliffs, but it does not explain why they are flying repeatedly back and forth over this lava lake and why they nest in the caldera with so much sulfur? I mean there are many much less active crates at Kilauea.
I would also imagine they like to ride the rising warm air. There's no reason they wouldn't like the caldera. There are roughly a dozen other bird species living in there alongside them without any problem. There are some people with sensitive respiratory systems who make a big deal about the vog, but I hardly notice it myself. On the thickest days it's just a "peanut butter" taste in my mouth and a little irritation cough if I breathe too hard.

Some sections of the northern caldera wall are indeed riddled with numerous steam venting cracks all the way to the top. I don't know whether they respond to these.
__________________
Range: East Hawai'i, 3200-13800 feet elevation
Please help monitor bird distributions @ http://www.ebird.org
bkrownd is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2010 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Wednesday 16th November 2016, 18:40   #8
Tsunamispeakershawks
Registered User
 
Tsunamispeakershawks's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 106
Here's one more video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5PyVmCZZbs By the end of it I added a video of the bird that appears to be falling into the lava lake in a slow motion. I did not see the bird in my viewfinder, when I was recording the video, and stopped the recording a little bit too soon, but I'd like to ask you please: Do you believe it is a normal flying pattern for this bird, or it really looks like the bird is falling?
Tsunamispeakershawks is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 16th November 2016, 19:23   #9
Nutcracker
Northumbrian

 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 14,315
Hard to say, but my guess is that it is quite a bit closer than the lava fountain and probably didn't fall in. While the occasional death can't be ruled out, I'd suspect it is very rare and therefore unlikely to be observed without hundreds / thousands of hours of monitoring. Tropicbirds are long-lived, and any significant increased mortality readily visible in a few tens of hours monitoring would have a strong attrition on the colony size and lead to local extinction (or stronger avoidance behaviour!) quite quickly.
Nutcracker is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 16th November 2016, 19:59   #10
Tsunamispeakershawks
Registered User
 
Tsunamispeakershawks's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutcracker View Post
Hard to say, but my guess is that it is quite a bit closer than the lava fountain and probably didn't fall in. While the occasional death can't be ruled out, I'd suspect it is very rare and therefore unlikely to be observed without hundreds / thousands of hours of monitoring. Tropicbirds are long-lived, and any significant increased mortality readily visible in a few tens of hours monitoring would have a strong attrition on the colony size and lead to local extinction (or stronger avoidance behaviour!) quite quickly.
Thank you for your response, but what do you think about the flight pattern? I mean this birds appears to be flying (falling) vertically down. Do birds normally fly in such a way ?

Also I don't recall, if I've ever mentioned this page http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/birds/rl...-GRUI/WTTR.pdf It states:

Quote:
Up to 15 pairs have regularly nested in Halemaumau Crater, Volcano NP, where they occasionally succumb to eruptions or bursts of sulfur emissions (Dunmire 1961).
Tsunamispeakershawks is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 16th November 2016, 23:52   #11
jurek
Registered User
 
jurek's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Switzerland/Poland
Posts: 3,728
I think they are safe, because the wind blows the fumes to the side. And a gust of hot air actually provides good lift. Incredible sight, I envy you!
jurek is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 17th November 2016, 01:38   #12
Nutcracker
Northumbrian

 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 14,315
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsunamispeakershawks View Post
I mean this birds appears to be flying (falling) vertically down. Do birds normally fly in such a way ?
I just looked at this section blown up full screen; it is a controlled descent with wings flapping, not just falling, so I guess it must have intended to do it. Beyond that, I can't tell!
Nutcracker is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 17th November 2016, 20:29   #13
Tsunamispeakershawks
Registered User
 
Tsunamispeakershawks's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 106
Thank you, jurek and Nutcracker.

Nutcracker, I am not sure it was a controlled descent because even with the wings flapping it looks weird, isn't?
But I guess we'd never know for sure what was really happened to this bird.
Tsunamispeakershawks is offline  
Reply With Quote
Advertisement
Reply


Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Volcano Hummer raymondjbarlow Bird Identification Q&A 5 Sunday 14th July 2013 16:24
Irazu Volcano JJP Costa Rica 4 Sunday 20th February 2011 13:20
volcano junco borealowl47 Costa Rica 1 Sunday 1st July 2007 04:54
UK National Whale and Dolphin Watch Week 2006 - Cumbria watch Martin Thomas Cetaceans & Marine Life 0 Thursday 10th August 2006 21:30
Volcano or Scintillant? SeanKP Hummingbirds 2 Thursday 22nd December 2005 11:04

{googleads}

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.19446707 seconds with 25 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 02:09.