The Mangrove Finch Project
The Critically Endangered mangrove finch (Camarhynchus heliobates) is the rarest bird in the Galapagos and globally one of the most range restricted birds.There are an estimated 100 individuals with fewer than 20 breeding pairs, occurring in just 30ha.
The finches are threatened by introduced species – predation from rats and parasitism of nestlings from the larvae of the fly Philornis downsi. Additional threats include diseases, reduced genetic diversity, hybridization and habitat loss from stochastic events.
The Mangrove Finch Project works to conserve the species within its natural habitat. Ongoing rat control reduces nest predation. Head-starting (collection of wild eggs/nestlings, artificial incubation, hand rearing and release of juveniles into the wild) has been conducted for four years to increase fledgling success. 39 hand-reared individuals have been released with observed survival and recruitment into the breeding population. Additionally a method for protecting nestlings in the wild is being trialed and may provide a more effective conservation management technique. Long term project aims include increasing the population size and reestablishing a viable mangrove finch population at a site within its historic range.
It is imperative that effective conservation management continues to ensure the future conservation of the rarest of Darwin’s finches.
The Mangrove Finch Project is a bi-institutional project of the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos National Park Directorate in collaboration with San Diego Zoo Global, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Auckland Zoo