Baiting mice to save birds

You would not normally find me jumping up and down because an entire island was covered with rodenticide to kill mice – but I am today. The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels and the Gough Island Restoration announced that the first bait drop on Gough Island is complete. They are hoping for good weather so they can complete the second bait application. So what is this all about?

“File:Gough island top view.png” by Photo: Steven Chown is licensed under CC BY 2.5

Gough Island is a tiny, 35 square mile volcanic and rather rugged British Protectorate, in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is home to some of the most beautiful sea birds in the world such as the Tristan Albatross. Each year over 2 million seabirds are killed by ‘invasive non-native house mice’, according to the Gough Island Restoration Committee. Close your eyes and imagine a mouse biting and eating one one poor albatross chick – and then imagine the horror of 2 million! The mice, who were brought onto the island in the nineteenth century by humans, are now so big that they are even attacking and killing the adult birds.

Below is the image of an adult bird with a deep injury from the mice. She is still trying to take care of her chick. The mother dies on Gough Island on 28 April 2021. She was ringed in 1986 and was the second oldest female on Gough Island. So very, very sad to have survived that long and to be killed this way.

@ P. Ryan
@ R. Daling

So how do you get rid of an island full of mice? The Gough Island Restoration Committee is using helicopters to spread cereal bait pellets containing a rodenticide across the island. At the same time they are working to safeguard the land birds during the operation until the baiting of the mice is complete. We wish them well on this historic endeavour.

For those of you wondering about Big Red’s K3, he is fine. He may give us all ulcers before he leaves his parent’s territory! A bit of a daredevil that one and so tiny the wind just picks him up and off he goes! K1 is fine as well.

Tiny Tot had a nice big fish this morning and fought off another intruder.

And what is so different about this ousting is that Tiny Tot had a fish in his talons! I am certain that adult bird believed it could take that fish away from a juvenile but Tiny told them! Don’t mess with me! This little one is getting really street smart.

There was something I noticed about Tiny Tot this morning I want to share with you. Look at the top of Tiny Tot’s head. I have mentioned the white ‘V’ earlier but look – a heart! I like to think that heart is there from all the love everyone sent this tiny baby when it was starving.

But I am also pointing this out for a reason. We need to memorize the features on Tiny Tot’s head. He is not ringed so we have to identify him in other ways. The patterns are becoming clear and this will be the only way that someone will recognize him in the future – if he ever leaves the nest, which I am hoping he doesn’t.

The little Golden Eaglet in Bucovina is also fine. The father is becoming more comfortable with the camera and is delivering small snack-like prey to the eaglet several times a day. This is so positive in terms of the survival of this beautiful eaglet. Here is the little eaglet today with a nice crop.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Fingers crossed all around for the success of the Gough Island Restoration! Have a wonderful weekend all.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots today: Achieva Credit Union, Asociatia Wild Bucovina, and the Gough Island Restoration Information Page where I grabbed the photos of the injured adult Tristan Albatross.

Credit for the feature image goes to: “Tristan da Cunha-12-010-albatross on Nightingale Tristan in background-Credit Paul Tyler and Alison Rothwell)” by darwin_initiative is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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