“Good fences make good neighbors,” wrote poet Robert Frost. While his poem was about the dubious nature of boundaries kept in check by surly New England yankees, the sentiment holds true in Hawaii, at least. Specifically, the state’s Big Island, where a new fence was just completed in the hopes of protecting an endangered bird.

Though the Hawaiian Petrel lives throughout the Hawaiian islands, its numbers are low, and fewer than 100 pairs breed in the Big Island’s Hawaiian Volcanoes Natural Park (also home to the Mauna Loa volcano). Part of the threat to the birds’ existence has been ravaging by feral cats, which eat both adults and chicks alike.

In hopes of protecting the Petrels without slaughtering cats, the National Park Service, American Bird Conservancy, and other groups spent a lot of time and money putting up a 5-mile-long, 6-foot-high fence meant to keep the cats out. That means about 600 acres will hopefully become cat-free, leaving the birds to breed and live in peace. Sounds something like a win-win.

(Hawaiian Petrel photo by Jim Denny/National Park Service)

Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.