Sunday, July 12, 2009

Welcoming Birds Back to a Remote Alaskan Island

My post? I first became interested in Alaska’s Aleutian chain in 1968 when I was issued orders to the Alaskan Air Command’s radar site at Shemya, which is also in the chain.
Luckily, I was diverted to Sparrevohn, AFS, on the mainland which was still remote, but considerably less barren.
I commend your efforts and add my best wishes for your continued successes.

Last summer, when biologists walked along the rocky cliffs on Rat Island, one of more than 2,000 islands in Alaska’s Aleutian chain, they encountered an eerie silence. This place should have been a cacophonous and lively melee of bird calls.

The reason for the silence? Invasive rats. They colonized the island after a Japanese fishing vessel wrecked against its rocky shore in 1798. Their numbers multiplied, and for more than two centuries the voracious rats have preyed on bird eggs and young chicks. The birds gone, silence spread from shore to shore.

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