Houston Zoo Staff Saving Wildlife in the Mariana Islands!

This blog was written by Steve Howard, a member of the Zoo’s Bird Department. Steve Howard received a Staff Conservation Fund grant from his coworkers at the Houston Zoo to carry out a wildlife-saving project for birds in the Mariana Islands (a chain of islands in the western North Pacific Ocean). We will be posting a series of blogs as Steve documents his work overseas. 

Blog entry. 5:30 AM Thursday 4/21

Hello from the Mariana Islands!

I’m returning to the Marianas to continue working with Pacific Bird Conservation on the MAC Plan (Mariana Avifauna Conservation). Once again we’ll be trapping birds of two different species – the Tinian Monarch and the Bridled White-eye to translocate to another island and release. These birds are moved from one island to another due to the threat of predation by an introduced species, the brown tree snake. The islands where these birds are being moved do not currently have brown tree snakes, and this translocation will help ensure the birds’ survival.

Tinian Monarch, photo courtesy of the Memphis Zoo
Tinian Monarch, photo courtesy of the Memphis Zoo
Bridled White-Eye, photo courtesy of Pacific Bird Conservation
Bridled White-Eye, photo courtesy of Pacific Bird Conservation
Loading supplies on the island of Saipan
Loading supplies on the island of Saipan

So, 20 hours of flights later, I’m here on Tinian! We started out on Saipan, getting all the equipment out of storage. The pictures show us in the process of removing all the crates and boxes from the storage unit and loading it in the truck to take it to the port. It’s then stacked on pallets and put on the barge for Tinian. Yesterday we unloaded the bird boxes that we’ll need to keep the collected birds, and supplies maintain the bird room. Setting up the bird room is a lot of work. There are 85 bird boxes to assemble and a load of stuff to unpack and organize, so it took 9 of us about 6 hours to get it done. So glad we have a team!

Storing supplies needed for the bird translocation process
Storing supplies needed for the bird translocation process

Today we’ll take all the field supplies to the field and set up out there! This part is a little tedious, but it’s still conservation work! Every little thing we do these first days will lay the groundwork for what comes next – the fun part.

Still to come – why do we do this?

To find out more about our Houston Zoo staff saving wildlife, click here.