Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Near Threatened because it has a tiny range, occurring at six locations, but its population is increasing and at present there are no serious threats to the species's survival.
In all, the total population of this species is now estimated at c.3,500 individuals, equating to c.2,300 mature individuals.
Introductions have helped the population of this species to increase continuously at a slow to moderate rate, as verified by surveys.
Foudia sechellarum now occurs on six islands in the Seychelles: Cousin, Cousine, Frégate, D'Arros (introduced), Aride (reintroduced) and Denis (introduced) (Vega 2013). The former range included Marianne, possibly La Digue, and it may have been widespread throughout the Praslin group (Watson 1984, A. Skerrett in litt. 1999). Population estimates are: Cousin c.1,000 birds in 1997 and fluctuating between c.850 and c.1,200 before and after breeding (Rocamora 1997; Vega 2005); Cousine: 332-529 birds in 2004 (Vega 2005); Frégate: 870-1,495 birds in 2004 (Vega 2005); D'Arros: c.200-300 birds in 1995 (Skerrett 1995); Aride: 124 individuals and 27 breeding territories (Wagner 2003, N. J. Shah in litt. 2004); Denis: at least 14 introduced birds and 10 island-bred birds present in May-July 2005 (Bristol 2005). Several island-bred birds have been seen with fledglings, including a pair of island-bred birds, indicating that the population is now self-sustaining (Bristol 2005). In all, the total population of this species was estimated at c.3,500 individuals in 2004 (Wagner 2004).
It probably originally occupied natural woodland, but has adapted to man-made habitats such as gardens and coconut plantations (Lloyd 1973, Rocamora 1997). It has a varied diet including insects and invertebrates, seeds, nectar and fruits (Bathe and Bathe 1982, Brooke 1985). It also depredates eggs of other species, especially seabirds (Rocamora 1997). It appears largely non-territorial, ranging widely, but occasionally defends a small territory in the breeding season (Bathe and Bathe 1982, Brooke 1985, Rocamora 1997). Occasionally cooperative breeding has been recorded, but usually in pairs (Vega 2005). They may breed several times a year, producing clutches of 1-2 eggs (Vega 2005), and even newly translocated birds to Aride have managed up to three breeding attempts in the 13 months since translocation (Wagner 2003). Individuals have been recorded to live >10 years, with the oldest reported individual >14 years old (Oschadleus et al. 2013).
Historically, slaves killed these birds as they were thought to pose a threat to crops (A. Skerrett in litt. 1999). This persecution, combined with habitat destruction, probably reduced the distribution of the species (Rocamora 1997). Today, the main threat may be competition and predation from introduced species (A. Skerrett in litt. 1999). This species appears to have some degree of tolerance to introduced cats (on Frégate, Cousine and D'Arros) and brown rats Rattus norvegicus (on Frégate and D'Arros) (J. Millett in litt. 2004). However, black rats Rattus rattus pose a significant threat (J. Millett in litt. 2004, Bristol 2005), although they are unlikely to become established on islands that this fody inhabits (Wagner 2004). Foudia madagascariensis is not a major competitor (Crook 1961, Rocamora 1997). However, an introduced female F. sechellarum produced hybrid offspring with F. madagascariensis on Aride before the bird was removed (Lucking 1997). Some colour variation in the D'Arros population may be a result of hybridisation with F. madagascariensis (Rocamora 2003, L. Wagner in litt. 2004).
Conservation Actions Underway
On Cousin, encouraging regeneration of natural woodland, dominated by Pisonia grandis, may have allowed the substantial population increase in recent years (Rocamora 1997). On Cousine, habitat management has probably also helped (A. Skerrett in litt. 1999). In February 2002, Nature Seychelles translocated 64 fodies to Aride Island where the population has at least doubled in the last 13 months (Wagner 2003). In February 2003, Nature Seychelles introduced 47 fodies to Denis Island, where a self-sustaining population has now established (Bristol 2005). Assessment of the extent of hybridisation on D'Arros through DNA analysis is underway (L. Wagner in litt. 2004).
12-13 cm. Small, drab-olive weaver. Yellow face in breeding male. Robust black bill. Similar spp. Female, juvenile and non-breeding male F. madagascariensis similar, but lack yellow wash across face and have more streaked upperparts. Voice tsk tsk contact call and chattering alarm call.
Text account compilers
Harding, M., Ekstrom, J., Benstead, P., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Warren, B., Westrip, J.
Wagner, L., Millett, J., Rocamora, G., Parr, S., Skerrett, A., Shah, N., Bristol, R.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Foudia sechellarum. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/10/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/10/2019.