Cat and Mouse vs. Bird on a Tropical Island

An endemic flycatcher (Elaenia ridleyana) calls from a tree on Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha has always had a small number of bird species, which makes the few that survive here all the more unique, and all the more important to protect.

I’ve been here for the past few weeks, getting to know the island, its birds, and the invasive species I came here to study.

As a small oceanic island nestled just south of the equator in the Atlantic Ocean, its always been hard for species to find their way to Fernando de Noronha. In fact only four species of land birds ever made it: a fly catcher, a vireo, a dove and a rail. Even more bizarrely, at some point in the past a rat species (Vespucci’s rat) managed to combination raft and swim what is today 350 kilometres to colonize the island.

This means that unlike on most remote islands, the land birds here evolved alongside a rat species, conferring some resistance to subsequent rat invasion. It wasn’t enough though for the rail, which is now extinct.

The flycatcher (Elaenia ridleyana) and vireo (Vireo gracilirostris) have been here so long they have evolved into unique species. Although common across the island, they are by virtue of their isolation classified as endangered on —> Read More Here


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