April 1, 2017

500 Canaries Can't Be Wrong


Midway Atoll is, I've been told, the only place in the world that a self-sustaining population of yellow canaries—some 500—can be found. But they are of course not native to this far-flung spot. They were brought to Midway in 1910 by an employee of the cable company that laid the first round-the-world telegraph cables. Nevertheless, their century-long inhabitation is impressive, and many other non-native occupants wreak far worse ecological havoc. The canaries flitter about the island, generally unconcerned about the much larger birds that share the space. This bristle-thighed curlew, which breeds in Alaska and winters on tropical Pacific islands, seemed much more aware of them than they were of it! The juxtaposition of two species I saw almost every day but which are rarely associated with Midway Atoll made for a comical shot.