Protecting Seabird Breeding
Laysan Albatross and chick, Kaena Point, Oahu by George-Wallace, ABC, May 2007
Many seabirds nest in places favored by
humans, such as tropical islands, where there are no native
predators to prey on them or their chicks. Unfortunately,
overlapping with humans is rarely a good plan for wildlife.
Waterfront development and recreational areas have replaced
thousands of acres of former nesting grounds. Invasive
species such as cats, rats,
Crownbeard have wreaked havoc in seabird nesting grounds.
To address this threat in the United States, ABC strongly
supports the bipartisan Refuge
Ecology Protection, Assistance, and Immediate Response Act,
or REPAIR Act (H.R. 767). Seabirds often nest colonially,
sometimes because they are sharing tiny islands far out at
sea, and because colonies offer better vigilance against predation.
But large concentrations of seabirds in one site can also
heighten risks. For example, even a small number of cats can
decimate a dense seabird colony if the birds are unaccustomed
to predators. Furthermore, contamination can rapidly affect
large segments of a global population. On Midway Atoll, the
centerpiece of the new Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument,
and historical site of the Battle of Midway, albatross chicks
die by the thousands each year because of a single threat: toxic
lead paint flaking off of the old buildings.
In addition, ABC's seabird program
works overseas to end threats on the nesting grounds of threatened
birds of the Americas. ABC is currently developing projects
to address land-based threats to the Galapagos Petrel and
Shearwater. Both nest in long fragile burrows, which are
vulnerable to being crushed by animals or blocked by invasive
vegetation like blackberry vines. The pink-footed shearwater
also faces a direct threat from humans on its largest nesting
site. Locals have been collecting the chicks to eat for years
and years, but the harvest is quickly exceeding sustainable
levels. A detailed account of the shearwater and threats it
faces can be found at www.pinkfootedshearwater.org.