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.
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.
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.