About Peruvian Seabirds ~
Throughout the beaches and inshore seas of the Humboldt Current, these seabirds are common and noticeable. Occasionally, they dive sharply into the water in groups of hundreds, joining feeding frenzy terns, gulls, and cormorants. They are frequently observed sitting among pelicans and cormorants on jetties and cliffs. The adult's snow-white head and neck, along with its black upperparts and white back scaling, make it easily recognizable. Juveniles have a darker head and body and are often dingier. In contrast, the Blue-footed Booby (which is frequently found with Peruvian) always has a white body that contrasts with a dark neck. The vocalizations of female Peruvian boobies vary, ranging from trumpet-like quacks to honks. In contrast, the male booby usually whistles. Adult individuals of the species are the only ones capable of this type of auditory communication because it takes years to develop such vocalizations.
Only the waters of the Humboldt current, which runs off the coast of South America, are home to the Peruvian booby. Off the coast of Peru and south to the center of Chile, they can be found. Numerous studies have been conducted on the species found on the islands of Lobos de Tierra and Lobos de Afuera as a result of their abundance. Their colonies build their nests on wind-swept, smooth sand flats where the temperature stays between around 28 and 38 degrees Celsius. These pampas, or salt flats, provide a rather high density of booby nests.
Chile ~ Their Nesting Place
The majority of the Peruvian seabirds nesting locations have been found by chance due to the lack of comprehensive surveys in the plains of the Peruvian desert. Following the discovery of additional nesting sites in the future, the number of nesting places and distribution range may rise.
While the exact location of the nesting habitat varied from place to place, terns could always be found either in front of the nesting area (Mollendo) or near wetlands on sandy beaches 50–100 meters from the shore, with grass and shrubby vegetation behind (Puerto Viejo), or on firm sand with gravel, free of plant growth, and typically 1-2 km inland (Pampa Lechuzas and Yanyarina). Only the arid plains, often more than one kilometer inland, have Peruvian Tern colonies been discovered in Chile (Johnson 1967, Devillers & Terschuren 1976, Vilina 1998, Guerra-Correa 2003). According to our observations, Peruvian Terns can pick sandy beaches that are close to wetlands rather than just nesting inland, as was previously thought. Seabirds that nest inland may do so in proximity to areas where there is a large concentration of terrestrial predators.
Restoring native wildlife and the ecology ~
Seabirds' predicament ~ Habitat degradation and predation by invasive species pose a danger to the Peruvian diving petrel (Pelecanoides garnotii), also referred to as yuncos in the local dialect. For example, foxes and rabbits have mostly pushed the species away of Chañaral Island in Chile, which was once a major nesting habitat. When rabbits were sent to Chañaral Island in the early 1900s, it was to provide food for fishermen who had become stranded. However, the rabbits soon overtook the bird burrows and completely destroyed the island's flora. Subsequently, foxes were brought in to manage the rabbit population; however, their primary objective appeared to be scavenging the diving petrels.
Concerning the CONAF Initiative ~
In 2013, scientists and animal care supervisors from Island Conservation and the Chilean National Forestry Corporation, also known by its Spanish abbreviation CONAF, initiated the process of restoring the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve. This nature reserve, which includes the three Chilean islands of Chañaral, Damas, and Choros, was initially restored through the removal of invasive species. The Chañaral was proclaimed free of foxes and rabbits in 2017.
A group from Island Conservation, CONAF, Catholic University of the North, and Project Puffin then started using social attraction techniques in 2019 to get the Peruvian diving petrels to return to Chañaral Island. This is a common tactic used by experts to get threatened seabirds to establish new nesting grounds or return to areas they have previously used.
Seabirds' return to Chañaral Island is crucial for the health of the environment as a whole, in addition to their numbers.
Additional insights gained from the Research and Seabird Recovery ~
According to a study that was published in Scientific Reports, native fauna and ecosystems have been successfully restored on islands through the extermination of alien species. Removing invasive species is essential to restoring connection between islands and seas, which helps both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, according to a new opinion post. Seabirds on other islands liberated from invading animals have made amazing recoveries, and there are encouraging indications that Chañaral may follow suit.