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Old 05-05-2001, 11:59 PM
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I was watching David Attenborough's wonderful documentary on the life of birds. He mentioned that the island of Guam has no birds anymore due to them leaving or becoming extinct.

He was there and they had the cameras there. No birds in sight. The forests were totally silent. I'm inclined to believe him because, well, he's David Attenborough.

Has anyone been there? Did you see birds? If not, was it weird to not see any birds at all?

Old 05-06-2001, 12:53 AM
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: RedondObama Beach, CA
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You might find some interesting answers here: The Birds of Guam. (No time to peruse the site myself - sorry.)

Jeg elsker dig, Thomas
Old 05-06-2001, 12:55 AM
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I've never been there, Mahaloth, but according to a couple of sites I surfed the large numbers of brown tree snakes are the reason. They eat the eggs.
This site says that there are large numbers of chickens,no gulls, no pigeons, a few grackles and sandpipers, and a few sparrows which are passing through.
Yeah, it's like goldy and bronzy, only it's made of iron.
Old 05-06-2001, 11:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2001
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Lived on Guam in the early 1970s. I loved the place. There were clearly quite a few birds there then. Returned a few years ago for a visit and I did notice a drop in the bird population. However, some are still there.

Shayna's cite was quite good. But I might add a few suggestions. Up until the late 1960s Guam had not been hit by that many major storms and since then they have happened a bit more regularly.

Also the human population with it's fondness for pets has grown on the island. When I was there people used to drop off unwanted pets in the forest (jungle) and this could be part of it. And of course there is the tendency for humans to invade pristine areas.

Finally, I might mention that friends of mine on the atoll of Woleai around 400 miles south and a touch east of Guam mentioned something which may or may not be related. They said that their "Bird Island," Fallis, has seen a marked reduction of birds in the last two to three decades also and they are unsure why.

Old 05-06-2001, 07:10 PM
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You know what, Attenborough mentioned the snakes as being the reason. He also showed that spiders and other insects are thriving because of the depletion of birds.
Old 05-07-2001, 10:05 PM
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Posts: 37,534
Originally posted by Mahaloth
You know what, Attenborough mentioned the snakes as being the reason.
The virtual extinction of the forest birds of Guam has been caused by the accidental introduction of the Brown Tree Snake Boiga irregularis, one of the worst ecological catastrophes in the Pacific Islands in the past 50 years.

According to this site:


Historically there are 102 species of birds found on Guam. Of those species, 72 are migrant (yet are native), 22 are native, and eight are introduced. Of the native species, five are endemic at the species or subspecies level (Enbring & Fritts 1988). Even before the introduction of snakes to Guam, 4 of the 22 native species became extinct, and with the arrival of Boiga irregularis natve birds were decimated within four decades, with the explosion of snakes outnumbering birds four to one (Fritts & Rodda 1998). The introducation of Boiga irregularis on Guam has resulted in population declines of native resident birds; of the 18 native species, half have been extirpated, six are almost gone, and three exist in only small numbers (Enbring & Fritts 1988). Smaller birds were the first to start disappearing because their size makes them easy prey, coupled with the fact that the birds have no defense against snakes to protect them from predation since there are no snakes naturally on Guam. Of the eight introduced species only three have been drastically reduced in number because of their defense mechanisms, including: size (too big for snakes to swallow), beaks (used in defense), and/or self-preservation instincts (Enbring & Fritts 1988).

Table 1: Guam birds that have been extirpated due to introduction of Boiga irregularis

Nightingale reed-warbler
White-throated ground-dove
Micronesian kingfisher
Guam flycatcher
Cardinal honeyeater
Marianas fruit-dove
Guam rail
Rufous fantail
Bridled white-eye

Some of these species survive on other islands, and others such as the Guam Rail survive in captivity.

The snakes have also virtually wiped out several other species such as a native fruit bat, and also cause power outages by climbing high voltage poles and shorting out the lines. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has an intensive monitoring program to try to keep them from colonizing Hawaii (transported in the wheel wells of aircraft in particular), where they would likely cause even worse damage.

Do a search on "Brown Tree Snake" and Guam and you'll find a ton of references.

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