Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chatham Black Robin

(Image Source)
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Aves
Order : Passeriformes
Family : Petroicidae
Genus : Petroica
Species : traversi

Height : 4in (10cm)

IUCN Status : Endangered

The Chatham Black Robin is found only on the Chatham Islands, which are situated east of New Zealand. Like many island species, the Chatham Black Robin became threatened by the introduction of invasive predators, most notably rats and cats. By 1980 there were only 5 Chatham Black Robins left.

Of these five, there was only one female capable of reproduction, "Old Blue." It is from Old Blue and her mate, Old Yellow, that all current Chatham Black Robins are descended. What is so amazing about this is that Old Blue was already nine years old when the conservation project remained, far beyond the typical four-year life expectancy!

Old Blue
In order to save the species, scientists employed a conservation method called "cross-fostering." When the Robins laid eggs, the first clutch was taken away and cared for for another bird species. Losing their eggs caused the Robin pair to produce a second clutch, doubling their offspring output each year. There are now over 200 Chatham Black Robins, confined to the islands of Mangere and Rangatira which are free of rats cats. Their conservation is a great success story, and the population continues to increase.

Pairs mate for life, and normally produce one clutch each year. They live in forested areas on lower tree branches in an effort to stay away from the high winds that hit the Chatham Islands. Black Robins are carnivores that feed off of a variety of invertebrates, including roaches, worms, and wetas.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! They were *this* close to extinction, that's ridiculous. And my thumb and forefinger are VERY close to each other right now, I assure you.


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