Signs of New Life at Rat Island

The Rat Island sky fell silent after an invasion by predatory Norway rats more than two centuries ago. These 2009 photos show the beginning of a remarkable bird recovery on this Aleutian island. © Island Conservation

Together with Island Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy led a campaign to eradicate the invasive rats—essential for restoring seabird populations. © Island Conservation

The black oystercatcher is among the dozens of bird species expected to flourish on Rat Island again. © Island Conservation

Black oystercatcher nests such as this one discovered during the 2009 summer field season are the first ever recorded on the island. © Island Conservation

Black oystercatcher chick. © Island Conservation

Rock sandpiper nest. © Island Conservation

Winter wren. © Island Conservation

Flock of Aleutian cackling geese. © Island Conservation

An Aleutian cackling goose nest. Note how emerging hatchlings pecked the first visible cracks in the eggshells. © Island Conservation

A juvenile mallard. © Island Conservation

A pigeon guillemot nest. © Island Conservation

If eradication is successful, biologists expect Rat Island will again support dozens of bird species. Will the island get a new name? Some suggest Howadax, Aleut for opening or welcome, would be fitting. © Island Conservation


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