Scientists Use 'Bird Disco' to Boost Seabird Populations
These scientists are throwing a party for birds. Specifically, a disco.
The Caribbean island of Desecheo used to be a bird paradise. Then, invasive species such as rats, goats, and macaques started appearing in boatloads, wiping out the resident populations of seabirds. Of the 7 original breeding species, only 2 now remain (and their numbers are down to just 2% of the historic population). Now, scientists are trying to boost the populations of 3 birds: the bridled tern, brown noddy, and the Audubon's shearwater.
Over the past 40 years, conservationists have diligently rooted out non-native animals. However, those efforts were insufficient since seabirds breed in colonies, and nest with conspecifics in the same location each year. So, to tempt the birds back to Desecheo, the scientists have planted custom bird decoys, mirrors, and blasted bird calls out to the ocean to convince other birds that there is a colony there. They are referring to this elaborate setup as a seabird disco.
Scientists say that the early results of their efforts are promising, with a few individuals nesting on the island and interest from birds flying overhead. The team is hoping to set up more 'discos' in the Caribbean, while a similar project is underway in Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.