Sooty Terns, White-Tailed Tropicbirds and Sunbirds
A number of bird conservation projects have been implemented on Bird Island over the years. Current ongoing projects include the Sooty Tern Project, the White-tailed Tropicbird Rehabilitation Project, and the Seychelles Sunbird Translocation Project.
In the Seychelles the eggs of the Sooty Tern are regarded as a delicacy by the Seychellois. They used to be gathered in vast quantities on several islands such as Desnoeufs and in the Amirantes, causing the sooty tern numbers to decline.
Bird Island Lodge and the Seychelles Government are determined that the annual harvest of Sooty Tern eggs be sustainable, and to this end the government has encouraged research to assess how many eggs can safely be taken and how best to do this.
Most of the research is undertaken on Bird Island and fascinating facts are continually being discovered about the life of this bird. Large numbers of both adults and young are ringed, and in subsequent years, the ringed birds are searched for in the colony. When seen, they are caught using small hand nets and are identified using their rings in order to determine at what age they first bred in Seychelles, how long they live to and whether they move from island to island or whether they live in one colony only.
Now with a conservation ethic on the island, and only a controlled number of eggs (around 3%) being harvested annually, the terns are no longer threatened and the Seychellois are delighted to have an annual supply of tern eggs.
White-tailed Tropicbirds can be seen soaring in the skies above Bird Island and nesting in the tree roots all around the hotel grounds. These birds are closely monitored, after the rehabilitation of their breeding habitats. This has led to a successful increase in their numbers over the years – from only 1 pair to about 90 pairs in a decade. Knowing that they are protected on Bird Island, these long tail feathered birds show very little fear of human visitors, and with no predators around, they build their nests very near to the chalets. Guests are thus able to view the birds up close and even capture close range photos.
In February 2006 we began a programme where a breeding population of the Seychelles Sunbird was introduced to Bird Island from the main island of Mahé. In total 33 birds were introduced, taking to their new home very well. They have since then spread out across the island and have successfully paired and bred. These chirpy little birds can now often be seen flying around the tropical flowers on the island in search of nectar, which forms the major part of their diet.