Bird Conservation

Mariana Islands

Backstory: There’s this bad guy (he isn’t really a bad guy, he’s just in a place he shouldn’t be) who hitchhiked his way over to an island in the Pacific called Guam. There he lived a life of reckless abandon. His feathered neighbors kept disappearing and someone finally noticed him (the brown tree snake) being a wholly unwelcome visitor.

It’s a sad story and one we’ve heard before. Nonnative species are released or wander over uninvited and the ecosystem is thrown out of balance. Species push and shove and you end up with a landscape that looks completely different. For Guam, its bird species were decimated.

Thankfully, there’s hope. There are people who work tirelessly to thwart the brown tree snake from taking up residence on neighboring islands and replicating the situation on Guam. Conservationists, biologists, zookeepers, and volunteers work together to create conservation/education programs and satellite or reserve avian populations. And under the relentless Pacific sun, I had the great opportunity to meet and work alongside those people.

Months after this experience, I have long noticeable scars down my legs. I’m fond of them. I acquired them while awkwardly scampering around papaya trees smothered in strangling vines (one of the target species destined for translocation was a papaya aficionado). It’s rewarding and inspiring taking part in something surrounded by many knowledgeable and passionate people.

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And just for fun, here are my anthropomorphic musings:

Tinian monarch: I like to picture the Tinian monarch as a precocious child constantly thwarting its parents. “Oh, I see your mist net. I’m going to continuously fly over it and taunt you, but you’re not actually going to catch me.”

Bridled white-eye: While sitting next to one of the mist nets, I couldn’t help thinking about seventh grade math class. The rows and rows of students chatting at any chance and bouncing in their chairs interrupted occasionally by someone attempting to direct their attention. The silence settles until the students feel comfortable enough to crescendo into another volley of chitchat.

I actually really enjoy birds now. They have many nuances I overlooked before this experience. Also, isn't there some saying about luck and bird poop? I am either very lucky or someone lied to me.