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Too Many Males Makes Breeding Unlikely for Magenta Petrel

Posted By G Living Staff Monkies On September 8, 2008 @ 1:04 am In G Living,Nature / Non Human Stories | No Comments

It’s too bad there’s no match.com for birds. At this point that seems to be the only thing that’s can save New Zealand’s Magenta Petrel. This rare and critically endangered seabird (also known as the Chatham Island Taiko) is, like so many of us, having a really hard time getting lucky.

Not to be confused with New Zealand’s Storm Petrel, the Magenta was first discovered at sea in the late 1860s. In 1978, it was rediscovered on New Zealand’s Chathan Island but with an 80% population cut, courtesy of introduced species like pigs, cats and rodents competing for the Petrel’s nesting burrows.

If you thought finding a mate was hard, try these odds: of the known Magenta Petrels in existence, 95% of them are male. And if you weed out the potentially sterile ones or the shy ones (who knows…there could even be some gay ones), you’re left with somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 to 15 breeding pairs in the world.

The keywords here are “in the world”. Not necessarily on Chatham Island. And according to Science Daily, the calls of these males are “too spread out to attract the infrequent females which pass by.”

Let me explain: it’s like you’re a single male living on a carrot farm in the middle of the Midwest somewhere. The nearest highway is a mile in the distance, so even if you happen be calling out “I need a mate”, the likelihood of one of the world’s eight to fifteen fertile women actually being in your part of the country, passing your village and hearing you at that exact moment is very grim.

But (according to Plenty), there is some hope: “petrel chicks (which aren’t yet old enough to breed) exist in an even male-to-female gender ratio, and now conservationists are trying to create a new, predator-free breeding colony to give the males a better chance at finding mates.”

In the human world, we’d call that a singles bar. Except that this one seems to be for kids. Which is kinda gross.

Like I said, it’s too bad there’s no match.com for birds.

(via Science Daily and Plenty)


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