Francesca Cunninghame

Mangrove Finch Project leader

Francesca was born and raised in New Zealand. She has been actively involved in bird conservation and research most of her life, joining the Ornithological Society of New Zealand when she was just 12 years old. She has studied and worked on endangered bird conservation projects in a variety of places including New Zealand, Antarctica, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

As her knowledge in endangered species conservation was easily transferrable across species, her experience was perfect to lead the "Protection and Recovery of Mangrove Finch Population" Project. Francesca lived permanently in the Galapagos from 2009 - 2016 and initiated the head-starting component of the project. She now oversees the project on a part time basis from southern New Zealand travelling to the islands to lead the intensive field management.

In addition to the Mangrove Finch Project, Francesca is involved with other land bird projects on the islands.


Committed to the conservation of the Critically Endangered mangrove finch, 2022 breeding season update

Following nine weeks camping in the remote northwest of Isabela Island, Galapagos, the Charles Darwin Foundation and Galapagos National Park Directorate Mangrove Finch Project field team returned to...

Conservation actions continue for the mangrove finch in the Galapagos Islands

---Press release--- In early 2020 at Playa Tortuga Negra, Isabela Island, during the shortened field season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, researches from the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF)...

Chicks fledge against all odds for the rarest bird in Galapagos - Season 2019

The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) team are back from two months of fieldwork in a remote part of Isabela Island, a small patch of mangrove forest...

Re-sightings of Captive-bred Mangrove Finches

Written in collaboration with Daniela Vilema. The mangrove finch (Camarhynchus heliobates) is a critically endangered species with a population estimated at 100 individuals with fewer than 20...

A New Season of Mangrove Finches Fighting for Survival

Written in collaboration with Liza Diaz Lalova. For the third year running, the rarest of “Darwin's finches” is being captive-reared at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS), the operating arm...

Mangrove Finch Conservation Workshop

A workshop "Conservation planning for the critically endangered mangrove finch (Camarhynchus heliobates) 2016 - 2020" took place in Puerto Ayora from the 15 – 18 September, 2015. Participants...

Eight Mangrove Finches Returned Home

In 2014 the collecting of eggs from the wild and captive breeding of mangrove finch chicks (Camarhynchus heliobates), a critically endangered species of the famous "Darwin's finches", began. The...


The mission of the Charles Darwin Foundation and its Research Station is to tackle the greatest threats and challenges to Galapagos through scientific research and conservation action, in order to safeguard one of the world’s most important natural treasures.

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