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First Mangrove Finch Hatched in Captivity

Date: March 6, 2014

The Mangrove Finch is the most threatened bird species in the Galapagos Islands. Currently, there are only 60 to 80 individuals left in the wild. They live in a tiny range (less than 30 hectares) in two patches of mangrove forest on the west coast of Isabela Island.

The main threat to the Mangrove Finch is an introduced species of fly called Philornis downsi. The fly lays its eggs in the finches’ nests and the larvae, once hatched, feed on the nestlings. If the Mangrove Finch becomes extinct, it will be the first recorded extinction of a bird species in the Galapagos Islands.

Twenty-one eggs and three newly hatched chicks were collected from nests on Isabella Island starting in early February and were transported to by helicopter to the new incubation and hand-rearing facility at the CDRS. Newly hatched chicks must be fed by hand fifteen times a day. The goal is to return the young birds back to Playa Tortuga Negra on Isabela Island, where they will be cared for in an acclimation aviary, before being released back into the mangrove forest and monitored by the field team.

The San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG), the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) are conducting the program.

Image: Mangrove Finch by Michael Dvorak / CC BY 2.5

Matt Kareus

Matt is the Executive Director of IGTOA.


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