Tag Archives: Denis Island

Third flycatcher born! (food size issues and a Bird song remix)

In our post on June 26, we shared the exciting news that efforts to establish a Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher population on Denis Island had borne fruit with the hatching of two chicks. No chick had fledged successfully outside La Digue Island, Seychelles for over 60 years. We also told you how this news had created considerable excitement as the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher is listed as Critically Endangered and this effort is geared towards improving that status. We have now heard that a third flycatcher nestling hatched. Rachel Bristol who is working on the flycatcher project tells us about this happy event and how, quite hilariously, the magpie robins and a sunbird are singing the flycatcher tune!

On Friday the 24th July a flycatcher nestling hatched and its over-enthusiastic father was trying (and failing miserably) to feed it huge green grasshoppers bigger in size than the tiny newly hatched chick. Luckily the female seemed to have the prey size a bit better sorted! The father is a young male and this is his first chick which may explain his food size issues.

It looks like the 2 flycatcher fledglings we had earlier are females which is good news as we introduced more males than females to Denis so this will even up the sex ratio. They are both still at home with their parents though feeding themselves now, and they have changed colour from brown (they are brown fluffy balls when they fledge) to the same colour as a female flycatcher. All juvenile flycatchers plumage is the same colour as adult female flycatchers- males change to male plumage from about 10 months old.

Female Vev

The female who has a small chick in a nest at the moment, with nesting material in her bill. Photo by Catherina Onezia

There is a solitary male Seychelles sunbird on Denis. It is ringed so we know who he is and where he came from. He came from Bird Island and is one of the sunbirds introduced to Bird Island from Mahe in 2006. He is very noisy and very active and if he wasn’t ringed I would swear there were about 4 sunbirds on the island as he moves over a large area and is very visible. He is also very annoying as he has started imitating flycatchers. He is so good that he not only tricks me and Mervin our flycatcher research assistant on Denis, he also tricks the flycatchers themselves who often chase him initially thinking he is a flycatcher intruding on their territory.

Seychelles sunbird on Denis

The sunbird that’s singing the flycatcher tune on Denis. Photo by Rachel Bristol

I think the sunbird has started this imitation as he is the only Sunbird on the island so has no Sunbirds to sing to/with as on La Digue sunbirds and flycatchers co-habit and I have never ever heard a sunbird imitate a flycatcher.

The Magpie robins on Denis also incorporate quite a lot of Flycatcher song into their song, however they always give themselves away by singing some very obviously magpie robin song after a few notes. The robins were initially noted doing this within about 3 months of the flycatchers being introduced to Denis so they learn fast.

So there you have it, there is indeed now great hopes for establishing a second population for the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher.

On the way to saving the Flycatcher

If you are a bird lover, you have probably heard the exciting news that Seychelles Paradise flycatchers have fledged successfully on Denis Island, Seychelles. If you haven’t and are wondering what this is all about, here’s the story.

The Seychelles Paradise-Flycatcher – known as the Vev here – is a Critically Endangered (CE) bird only known to be found breeding on one of the islands – La Digue.

To be listed as CE means that the birds face an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future. So to improve the flycatchers’ chances, 23 birds were translocated last year from La Digue to Denis, where it was hoped they would thrive and improve the status of this species. Upon release on Denis, it was reported that “they flew straight up onto tree branches, preened, then moved off and began to feed”. Some of the birds also appeared to have paired up almost immediately. Results of the pairing up bore fruit in April this year when two nests and egg laying was reported. Happily, we can now say we have “typical normal and healthy flycatcher chicks” on Denis.

rehydration and release

Photos: Re-hydration and release of the Vev on Denis

Female released

Female just released on Denis

“We are well on the way to saving the Flycatcher”, says the species guardian and  Nature Seychelles CEO, Nirmal Shah. What does this mean in terms of conservation results? “Well in the next two years or so I believe we would have no Critically Endangered (CE) birds left in Seychelles- a huge success considering that once upon a time Seychelles had more CE bird species than any country in Africa except Madagascar. This proves that conservation works. We can make it happen”.

You can read more about the trans- location and preparatory work that ended in this success at our website here. Another story by Birdlife can be found here

The translocation was funded by Darwin Initiative and led by the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) and Nature Seychelles. Partners and collaborators include Denis Island Development  Limited, the La Digue Development Board, the  Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Edited to add a link to a previous Reuters report on the translocation:

Reuters.com – Saving the Seychelles’ emblem. One of the world’s rarest birds, the paradise flycatcher, was once a common site in gardens on the island of the Seychelles. Around 250 species of the birds exist today and building work on the islands is threatening their habitat. Jasleen Sethi for Reuters television has this report from La Digue, an island in the Seychelles archipelago.