Survival of Pacific Golden Plovers at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific – an urban wintering ground on Oahu, Hawaiian Islands


18 – 22

11 April 14

Oscar W. Johnson, Patricia M. Johnson, Jay J. Rotella

Oscar Johnson
Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA


Public Files

We monitored survival in a marked population of territorial Pacific Golden-Plovers Pluvialis fulva for 18 consecutive seasons at a wintering ground within the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Honolulu, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The NMCP is a military cemetery and a popular tourist attraction. Despite frequent human-associated disturbance, the cemetery annually hosts a sizeable population of strongly site- faithful plovers during the non-breeding period. Mark-recapture modeling estimated high rates of survival that differed slightly by sex and season. For males and females, respectively, the estimates were: 0.92 and 0.96 from fall-to-spring (the wintering period); 0.92 and 0.89 from spring-to-fall (the period of migration and breeding). Last recorded sightings of individuals on their territories (i.e. whether the bird was present in spring but not in fall, or the reverse) were consistent with higher mortality during the migration and nesting season. We estimated mean post-banding life expectancy at 6.6 years for females and 6.1 years for males. The oldest plover in the study was a female that disappeared at 19 years 4 months when her territory was disrupted during cemetery renovations. Our findings are another example of the remarkable ability of Pacific Golden- Plovers to successfully winter in urban environments, a trait of major significance amidst continuing human expansion across the species’ non-breeding range.