Native bird egg that delayed downtown Honolulu project gone

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A native sea bird that halted a multimillion-dollar renovation project in downtown Honolulu before it even hatched is gone.

KHON2 first told you about the white tern last month when it nested on the balcony of the capitol district building. An eight-million dollar renovation was scheduled at the building, but since the bird is considered threatened, the project was delayed for months.

This is the only one of its kind known to nest on manmade structures so it’s a sad day for bird watchers here in downtown Honolulu who were hoping to see the egg hatch sometime next week.

Workers inside the building noticed that the egg was missing this morning, so officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were called to investigate.

The state put spikes on the railing to stop the birds from nesting there again. Keith Swindle from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it’s the right thing to do. He adds that the building is secure, so he doesn’t suspect that the egg was taken or destroyed.

“Some people are saying there might be foul play, but actually we do think it’s more like ‘fowl play’ where the birds themselves accidentally knocked the egg off,” Swindle said.

Workers have seen and recorded the parents switch-off before with another egg. They’ve also seen other eggs hatch and watched the parents fly in fresh seafood from miles away as the chick grows and eventually learns to fly.

“So it’s sad that this egg came down. It’s very likely though that this pair will re-nest in a couple weeks, so they’ll probably lay another egg,” Swindle said.

There are no signs of the egg down below and experts tell KHON2 it’s possible that a rat might have just taken it and ran off with it.

Because the white tern is threatened the state was not allowed to disturb the nest. They had to hold off any work until the egg hatched and the bird is able to fly. Plans to fumigate, put new tiles, and paint the building were on hold until September.

Now the state won’t have to wait as long.

“I’m gonna work with them to ensure that everything on the building is good in terms of the birds, and then they can go forward [with construction] when they can,” Swindle said.

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