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Short-term movement patterns, population estimates and breeding biology of an island endemic bird, the Tristan Thrush

Peter G. Ryan, Ben J. Dilley, Delia Davies, Trevor Glass, Fitsum Abadi


The Tristan Thrush Turdus eremita is the only land bird that survived human colonisation of the main island of Tristan da Cunha and is listed as “Near Threatened”. Population estimates are confounded by the thrushes' inquisitive and gregarious nature as well as limited information on their movements. We report the first measures of nest densities on Nightingale Island: 6 nests·ha-1 in Phylica arborea woodland and 4–5 nests·ha-1 in tussock habitat, which suggests that the population is approximately double the previous estimate. At Inaccessible Island, we individually color ringed 110 thrushes over two months to track their short-term movements and estimate the local population size. Individuals moved up to 950 m along the coast, but 96% of resightings were <
100 m. A Bayesian data augmentation approach estimated that some 260 thrushes visited the core study area, a 200-m stretch of cobble and boulder beach where birds come to drink, bathe and forage. This result suggests that the population on Inaccessible Island also is substantially larger than reported previously. We estimate the total population to be 8000–15,000 Tristan Thrushes. The main need is a population estimate for the nominate subspecies on the main island of Tristan.

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