This charismatic bird, originally found in great numbers on several islands, was in 1990 down to a population of only 23 birds on Frégate island, making it one of the most critically endangered species in the world. In 1990, a special recovery programme was established by Nature Seychelles, leading to the eventual translocation of several birds to Cousin, Cousine, and Aride islands. In 1999 the total population had increased to 90 birds, 25 of them on Cousin, and today, the island has a population of around 50.
The Seychelles Magpie Robin Recovery Team (SMART) ensures the continuous monitoring and conservation management of these birds. Each Island is responsible for monitoring their birds and every 6 months a meeting is held to share news and data and make necessary conservation management decisions.
On Cousin the birds are monitored on a daily basis; it is important that we keep continuous records of their behavior and breeding biology. The birds adhere to strict hierarchical systems whereby each family group maintain a particular area of the island known as a territory. The birds are ringed as chicks and blood samples are taken to do molecular sexing. From the rings we can recognize each bird as an individual and follow their progress from chick to juvenile to adult. Breeding attempts, conflicts, territory changes, disappearance or death are recorded allowing us to closely monitor any changes in population numbers.
The Magpie-Robins are fascinating and beautiful birds, they are a key tourist attraction on Cousin Island.
For information on volunteering on this project please see the Get Involved page.