Galapagos Welcomes Six New Darwin’s Flycatcher Chicks

Only 40 breeding pairs of the brilliantly colored bird remain, in the Galapagos Islands.

The vermilion flycatcher, also known as Darwin’s flycatcher. (Ely Penner photo/via Pixabay)

QUITO, Ecuador (AFP) — Six little vermilion flycatcher chicks have hatched in the Galapagos Islands, officials said Tuesday, in a boost to the dwindling numbers of the seriously endangered, brilliantly colored songbird.

Just 40 breeding pairs remain on the upper part of Santa Cruz island in the archipelago, 620 miles off the coast of Ecuador and made famous by Charles Darwin’s studies of their breathtaking biodiversity.

Also known as Darwin’s flycatcher, the bird has been registered on a dozen islands. 

Park officials are trying to boost the population by clearing introduced plant species from the island floor that make it difficult for the chicks to feed, Galapagos National Park Director Danny Rueda said.

Rangers are also placing larvicide at the base of their nests to prevent parasitic flies from entering the hatchlings, where they feed off their blood with fatal consequences.

The island province is a Natural World Heritage Site and home to unique flora and fauna.

In January a scientific expedition to the Galapagos Islands discovered a tortoise with a “strong” genetic link to a presumed-extinct subspecies made famous by a popular specimen named Lonesome George.

George, the last known member of the Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii Pinta tortoise species, died on Santa Cruz in 2012 at more than 100 years old, without ever breeding.

© Agence France-Presse

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