Seabirds at Edge of Extinction to Benefit from Colony Restoration Grants

American Bird Conservancy invests in on-the-ground conservation for the Townsend’s Shearwater and other endangered species

Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations, 202-888-7472 | jerutter@abcbirds.org
Expert Contact: Hannah Nevins, Seabird Program Director, 808-333-4469 | hnevins@abcbirds.org

The Townsend's Shearwater, along with several other seabird species, will benefit from on-the-ground conservation work and financial support from American Bird Conservancy. Photo by GECI, J.A. Soriano

(Washington, D.C., May 30, 2019) Today, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) announced awards totaling $100,000 to restore important seabird nesting colonies in Mexico, Peru, Chile, and the Dominican Republic. The awards will leverage additional matching funds, putting a total of $243,000 on the ground for direct conservation. Through this effort, ABC and partners are investing in the future of some of the Western Hemisphere's most imperiled seabirds, including the Townsend's Shearwater, Guadalupe Murrelet, Ashy Storm-Petrel, Townsend's Storm-Petrel, Peruvian Diving-Petrel, and Black-capped Petrel. These species are listed as Endangered and Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Some of the nesting sites where the projects will occur are globally recognized for their unique biodiversity through the Alliance for Zero Extinction.

These restoration grants, the first of their kind offered by ABC, address an urgent need for increased investment in capacity for seabird restoration, particularly in South America, where 38 globally threatened seabirds occur amidst unaddressed and growing threats, such as introduced predators.

Support for local initiatives is a key focus of these awards. “We are pleased to provide funds to dedicated local conservationists, many of whom are the only individuals or groups working to protect seabirds in their countries,” says Hannah Nevins, ABC's Seabird Program Director.

Awards include:

Mexico – Yuliana Bedolla and Federico Mendez of Grupo Ecología y Conservación de las Islas (GECI) will lead a project focused on restoration and monitoring on seven Mexican islands to protect four globally threatened seabird species. GECI is globally recognized for its expertise in eradicating nonnative species from islands. The project will benefit the Critically Endangered Townsend's Shearwater and Endangered Guadalupe Murrelet, Ashy Storm-Petrel, and Townsend's Storm-Petrel. Social attraction and artificial burrows will be used to attract birds to nest sites protected from nonnative predators.

Peru – This project will support conservation of the Endangered Peruvian Diving-Petrel by providing baseline information on nonnative rodent impacts at the birds' island nesting sites. It will also create a framework to communicate the need for conservation action, including invasive rodent eradication, on two important seabird islands off the Peruvian coast in the Reserva Nacional de Paracas. This effort will be led by Dr. Carlos Zavalaga of Universidad Científica del Sur, Marine Ecosystems Research Unit – Seabird Group, and Dr. Joanna Alfaro of ProDelphinus, in Lima, Peru.

Chile – Social attraction techniques that broadcast bird calls to simulate the sounds of an active colony will be used to attract Endangered Peruvian Diving-Petrels to the island of Chañaral, which was formerly home to the world's largest nesting colony of the species, but is now empty. An earlier project to eradicate habitat-damaging nonnative rabbits has made the island safe for the birds to return. This work will be led by Coral Wolf of Island Conservation in collaboration with local partner Dr. Claudia Fernández Zamora of Universidad Católica del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile.

Dominican Republic – A team, led by Ernst Rupp of the conservation nonprofit Grupo Jaragua and Dr. Yvan Satgé from the South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Clemson University, will work in the Sierra de Bahoruco to protect the few known nesting sites of the Endangered Black-capped Petrel by controlling nonnative predators.

“For species such as the Black-capped Petrel, few nesting sites have been found, so it is critical to protect each and every known site. The clock is ticking loudly for this species. Adult birds return every year to the same burrow and are subject to an onslaught of threats — human disturbance, agricultural encroachment, forest fires, and nonnative predators,” says Nevins.

Seabirds are among the most imperiled groups of birds. About one-third of seabird species are in decline worldwide due the above-mentioned threats, along with sea-level rise, reduction of prey due to overfishing, and fisheries bycatch. Most seabirds nest on or under the ground in burrows, where they are especially vulnerable to nonnative predators, including feral cats, mongooses, rats, and mice.

“Through these awards, ABC seeks to promote the kind of coordinated, large-scale efforts needed to conserve seabird nesting colonies,” added Dr. George Wallace, ABC's Threatened Species Conservation Officer. “The goal is to ensure that our children will see these magnificent species persist into the next century and beyond.”

American Bird Conservancy is grateful to the following donors for providing major support to its seabird program: Marilyn and Eldon Ball, BAND Foundation, The Martin Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Pacific Seabird Program, David and Lucile Packard Foundation Marine Bird Program, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Sacharuna Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lynn and Stuart White, and The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. See full list of ABC's seabird partners here.

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 American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@abcbirds).

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