Galapagos landbird identification workshop for local partners

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Between January 21st and 23rd a Galapagos landbird census and identification workshop was held at our research station in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island.

The workshop was an opportunity for Charles Darwin Foundation’s (CDF) expert landbird team to provide tips on identifying Galapagos bird species in the field – all in preparation for a landbird census to be conducted on the inhabited islands between February and March, 2015. 

This 3 day course was attended by ornithologists, Galapagos naturalist guides and Park Rangers from the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD). CDF researchers and investigators from Birdlife Austria provided lectures on visual and auditory species identification and gave a detailed breakdown of current landbird conservation work carried out by the CDF and the GNPD. On the following two days, armed with their notes and a pair of binoculars, the group went out into the field in the highlands of Santa Cruz to put classroom theory into practice.

At the end of the course, all attendees sat an exam to test their new-found bird spotting skills. The group was challenged to identify 20 different bird species over several different islands. All participants received a certificate of attendance.

Taller de aves1.jpgCDF researcher Dr Javier Cotín presenting at the workshop (Photo: Heinke Jäger)

Around 20 researchers and park rangers will take part in this year’s census to gather baseline data and updates on population estimates for landbirds on the inhabited islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Floreana and Southern Isabela. Although the humid highland areas of these islands harbor unique bird species, habitats are highly threatened by invasive species such as the parasitic fly, Philornis downsi and invasive plants like blackberry and quinine which can negatively alter the surroundings. There is also risk from predation by introduced mammals, such as rats and mice.

Over the next two months, trained park wardens and naturalist guides will collect information on identified key bird species in the field, allowing us to work together with our local partners in reacting quickly if strong population declines are evident. Over the next few years, our team of researchers and collaborators will collect landbird data for all the islands in the archipelago.

The Landbird Conservation Program is carried out in collaboration with the Galapagos National Park Directorate, Fundar, University of Vienna, Austria; Flinders University, Australia; University of Missouri, US; BirdLife Austria and Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, Germany. The project is supported by Galapagos Conservancy and International Community Foundation (with a grant awarded to The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust).