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2012-01-06
Seychelles Warbler – A fantastic success story.



The Seychelles Warbler - Acrocephalus schellensis - has come a long way from the days it neared extinction in the 1960s. The total world population of 26 was found only on Cousin Island, Seychelles. Today this population numbers over 300 birds. From Cousin Island, BirdLife International and Nature Seychelles started new populations, in line with the Species Action Plan, on Cousine, Aride, and Denis Islands in order to secure the Seychelles Warblers long-term survival. Due to conservation efforts there are more than 2500 of the species alive today.

The fifth island, Frégate Island in the Seychelles has just received 59 Seychelles Warblers thanks to a Nature Seychelles (BirdLife Partner) led initiative. The birds were captured in the morning, transferred by helicopter and were released on Frégate by afternoon of the same day so the birds could eat and drink before nightfall. Fregate Island has been restored over many years and is Rat and Mynah free which compete with and harm the Warblers.

The Seychelles Warbler - Acrocephalus sechellensis - also known as Seychelles Brush-warbler is a Seychelles Endemic and naturally occur in dense shrubland and in tall forests.

Description

It is a small greenish-brown bird. It has long grey-blue legs, a long horn coloured bill and a reddish eyes. The back, wings, flanks and head are greenish brown and the belly and breast are dirty white. The throat is a stronger white and there is a pale supercilium in front of the eye. Males and females look the same. Juvenile birds are darker with a more bluish eye.

Call

Rich and melodious, similar to a human whistle. Its structure is simple and is composed of short song sequences delivered at a low frequency range.

Food

It is almost exclusively an insectivore and obtains its prey by gleaning small insects from the undersides of leaves. It does occasionally catch insects on the wing as well. Most of the foraging occurs on Pisonia – Ficus lutea and Morinda – Morinda citrifolia. Studies of the foraging behaviour found that Seychelles Warblers favour Morinda and spend more time foraging there than in other trees and shrubs, the same study found that insect abundance is highest under the leaves of that shrub. The planting of Morindaon Cousin, and the associated improved foraging for the warbler, was an important part of the recovery of the species.

Breeding

The Seychelles Warbler is a rarity in that it exhibits cooperative breeding, or allo-parenting. The monogamous pair are assisted by a non-breeding female helper. Although warblers can breed independently in their first year, some individuals remain in their natal territory as subordinates, and often help by providing nourishment to non-descendant offspring. The frequency of 'helping' is affected by habitat saturation and variation in territory quality (insect prey availability).

 


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