Project Description

DESECHEO ISLAND

DESECHEO NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, PUERTO RICO

Bridled Tern decoy on Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.

The removal of invasive species made Desecheo into a new Island: more seabirds and land birds are present and there is significant growth of new vegetation in areas where it was once mostly bare ground.

JOSE LUIS HERRERA
Project Manager

Desecheo Island was once a major nesting area for thousands of seabirds which blackened the sky above like a perpetual storm cloud. Introduced invasive species devastated the seabird population, but thanks to a groundbreaking restoration project in 2016, the birds are now returning to their native home.

Now, Herrera and his team are bringing seabirds back to Desecheo using social attraction. The team is utilizing Bridled Tern decoy colonies and playing recorded Audubon’s Shearwater calls to attract these species to the island.

In 2019, we documented an Audubon’s Shearwater visiting the island on a nightly basis—an exciting result as this species had never before been recorded on Desecheo. The team also documented several Bridled Tern eggs in areas where nesting activity was not common in the past. Additionally, Brown Noddies, American Oystercatchers, Frigatebirds, and Brown Boobies are once again thriving.

After a second year of success Herrera can see his team’s efforts paying off: “Seabirds are returning to Desecheo and we’re hopeful that one day in the not too-distant future we’ll have an island full of activity.”

Higo Chumbo Cactus resurge after the removal of invasive rats.
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