Blake Jones ('04)
While Hawaii is known as an island paradise, unfortunately, it is also the endangered bird capital of the world with more than half of the native bird population having gone extinct. Blake Jones ('04) decided to dedicate his career to "being the change" by making Hawaii a safer place for endangered birds to survive and reproduce. The biologist aids the recovery of birds in peril as part of the Hawaiian Endangered Bird Conservation Program. Using artificial incubation and hand rearing as well as controlling environmental, nutrition and predation factors, Jones and his colleagues can release healthy chicks into restored and protected habitats. "I enjoy the process of solving problems to directly help Hawaii's birds, building on what others have discovered and finding new solutions to previously unanswered questions," he says. Successes of the HEBCP include developing procedures for hatching and raising 14 different endemic Hawaiian bird species, and raising more than 800 individual birds to adulthood. "Almost 200 Puaiohi (Kauai Thrush) have been released in the Alakai Swamp Wilderness Preserve, and captive raised endangered birds have been documented breeding with wild birds and successfully raising progeny," says Jones. Educating the public about the plight of Hawaii's critically endangered birds is also important to Jones. He is active in speaking to community groups, tourists, school groups and college students.
"The native birds in Hawaii are exquisitely unique and are found nowhere else. Getting to work with them is priceless."