Focus on the Mariana Islands

Located in the western North Pacific Ocean, the Mariana Islands are home to 19 endemic bird species and subspecies that are threatened by the introduction of the brown tree-snake. This snake, which was introduced to the island of Guam before 1950, has already been responsible for the extinction or extirpation of nine of 12 species of native forest birds on Guam, and has been determined the single greatest threat to terrestrial ecosystems in the other islands in the Mariana archipelago.

The National Aviary is working in collaboration with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ Division of Fish and Wildlife, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the non-profit group Pacific Bird Conservation, and Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoos to address this major threat to birds through the Marianas Avifauna Conservation (MAC) project.

Working primarily on the islands of Rota, Tinian, and Saipan, the MAC Project seeks to safeguard the unique avian diversity of these islands from potential extinctions that could result from introduction of the brown tree-snake from nearby Guam. The MAC Project’s long term plan is two-fold:

  • Establishment of satellite populations (population of relocated birds) of threatened species on other islands in the Mariana Archipelago deemed “safe” from the brown tree-snake; and,
  • The establishment and maintenance of captive populations of potentially affected bird species, through the generous contributions of both space and personnel by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).