Bird Island is located 3 miles (4.5 km) off the south-western
coast of West Falkland and is roughly triangular in shape.
The western half of the southern coast has sheer cliffs
reaching at least 70 m and the plateau above slopes gently
to the north and west. In the centre of the island there is a
large seasonal pool, to the west of a small inlet. The eastern
promontory has two domed peaks reaching to at least 110
m with sheer southern cliffs of 30 m and very steep slopes
in the north. Access by boat is difficult, except at the small
north-east-facing inlet between the northern and eastern
promontories, and the terrain is difficult to cross, with
dense growth of Tussac above thick, soft peat and Tussac
overhanging deep gulches.
The total number of species recorded on Bird Island in
November 1998 was 27, of which 25 bred or were probably
breeding. Macaroni Penguins, Ruddy-headed Geese,
Canary-winged/Black-throated Finches and Falkland
Steamer Ducks are present but their status is uncertain or
populations are too small to qualify. The congregation of
seabirds on this island exceeds 10,000 breeding pairs,
making the site classifiable under the A4iii criterion. Bird
Island is one of the most important breeding sites for the
Striated Caracara and it is considered that the population
here is at least as dense as on any offshore island around
the Falklands, possibly due to the very large population of
Thin-billed Prions, an important prey species. Deep Tussac
cover over most of Bird Island makes it comparable to
Beauchêne Island for the density of burrowing petrels.
Other species that should be investigated include the Sooty
Shearwater, Grey-backed Storm-petrel, which is thought to
be numerous, Rock Shag, Imperial Shag and the Dolphin
Gull. Endemic races present include the Dark-faced
Ground-tyrant, Falkland Thrush, Long-tailed Meadowlark
and the Common Diving-petrel.
Non-bird biodiversity: There are two colonies of South American Fur Seals present
on Bird Island, one of about 100 individuals on the northern
coast, the second on the south-western coast, comprising
approximately 10,000 individuals: the largest South
American Fur Seal colony within the Falklands archipelago.
The island also provides a haul-out for Southern Sea Lions,
although they are not known to breed there. No endemic or
introduced species were recorded in 1998; only 12 native
flowering plants were found with Tussac predominant.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Bird Island is free of introduced mammalian predators,
which is fortuitous because penguins were being killed
there in the mid-19th century, seals were taken at the end of
that century, and penguins’ and albatrosses’ eggs were
collected for consumption. All visitors by boat should be
informed about the dangers of accidentally introducing
alien species to Bird Island. Another local issue arises from
the annual dispersal of juvenile Striated Caracaras,
perceived as a problem at a few farms on neighbouring
West Falkland. There have been requests to kill some birds,
but few licences to remove ‘rogue’ birds have been issued
under the Conservation of Wildlife and Nature Ordinance
(1999). A detailed study of the ecology of the Striated
Caracara and the interaction of the species with agriculture
within the Falklands is necessary and should be seen as a
One of the main priorities for Bird Island is to assess the
populations of burrowing petrels and passerines. The
Tussac has not been grazed and there are no signs that the
vegetation has been burnt in the past. It is very important
that the Falkland Islands Countryside Code is followed, particularly to guard against the risk of fire to this important National Nature Reserve.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bird Island. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 04/07/2020.