James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge

Country/territory: USA

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A4i (2009)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 445 ha

Audubon / American Bird Conservancy
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2012 not assessed not assessed medium
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge is located near Kahuku Point at the northern tip of the island of O`ahu. The refuge consists of two units, the 51-hectare (126-acre) Ki`i unit and the 54.2 hectare (134-acre) Punamano unit, which is located 1.6 kilometers to the northwest of Ki`i. The Punamano unit contains a natural spring-fed marsh and typically has deeper water than the Ki`i unit. The Ki`i unit contains several large, shallow impoundments that were created as settling ponds for the Kahuku sugar cane mill, which was built in 1890. These ponds were heavily used by waterbirds, but they began to dry up when the mill closed in 1971. In 1976, the ponds were leased from the estate of James Campbell by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and managed as the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge. The primary purpose of the refuge is to protect and manage habitat for recovery of endangered waterbirds. There are numerous smaller ponds on adjacent private lands that have been used for commercial aquaculture, primarily of prawns, and that are also heavily used seasonally by waterbirds. Water levels in the impoundments at Ki`i can be controlled through a series of water control structures and wells to manage habitat for endangered and migratory waterbirds. Habitats include a freshwater marsh, open water, emergent aquatic vegetation, mudflats, and adjacent grassland and shrubland dominated by alien plants. The refuge is generally not open to the public, but public tours are conducted on a portion of the refuge by volunteers from the third Saturday in October through the third Saturday in February when Hawaiian stilts are not nesting. In July 2005, the lands comprising the refuge were purchased from the Estate of James Campbell. Additional lands were purchased and added to the refuge between the Ki'i and Punamano units and along the coastal dunes to the north. These additions increased the size of the IBA from 105ha to the current 445 hectares.

Key biodiversity
James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge contains one of the largest concentrations of wetland birds in Hawai`i. It is an important breeding, feeding, and resting area for three birds listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act; the Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Coot, and Hawaiian Common Moorhen. The Hawaiian Coot is an endemic species, the Hawaiian Stilt and Hawaiian Common Moorhen are endemic subspecies. Maximum numbers of these taxa recorded on the refuge are 295 coots in August 2000, 276 stilts in August 1994, and 98 moorhens in October 2006. The endangered Koloa or Hawaiian Duck was reintroduced to O`ahu in the 1960s and formerly occurred on the refuge, with a maximum of 63 recorded in January 1988, but hybridization with feral Mallards has become widespread on O`ahu and most or perhaps all of the birds now using the refuge are hybrids. The refuge also supports significant numbers of Bristle-thighed Curlews during fall migration, with a maximum of 53 birds observed in October 2007. The number of curlews using the area has increased recently, and some now spend the entire winter. The refuge also supports a variety of migratory waterbirds. At least 72 species of waterbirds have been documented using the refuge, including 24 waterfowl, 4 herons, 29 shorebirds, and 13 gulls and terns. Some species occur primarily during migration, but others are present throughout the winter. Some of the more common migrants are Northern Pintail (122), Northern Shoveler (160), Lesser Scaup (57), Pacific Golden Plover (300), and Ruddy Turnstone (200). Although these numbers are small by continental standards, they represent some of the largest concentrations of these species in Hawai`i and the Pacific. The refuge has also hosted many unusual vagrants, including Northern Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Black-tailed Godwit, Hudsonian Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, and Snowy Egret, making James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge one of the top sites for wetland birds in Hawai`i.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/01/2023.