Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 17, 2015

Contact: Tara Easter, (971) 717-6408,

Rare Pacific Island Bird Moves Closer to Endangered Species Act Protection

WASHINGTON— In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced that the Tinian monarch may qualify for Endangered Species Act protection. The Center petitioned for this island bird in December 2013 because habitat loss, caused by expanding military activities and other factors, is threatening them with extinction.

“The one and only island these birds call home has a long history of habitat destruction,” said Tara Easter, a scientist with the Center. “With a rampant increase in military combat training in their forested habitat, Endangered Species Act protection is critical to prevent the loss of the Tinian monarch.”

A member of the flycatcher family, monarchs were threatened with extinction during World War II due to forest clearing for agriculture and military staging on Tinian, a U.S. territory located east of the Philippines and south of Japan that is part of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

The bird was protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1970 and removed from the list in 2004 following an increase in forest cover and population size. But the population declined by nearly 40 percent between 1996 and 2008 and a resurgence in military training activities and increased development are threatening the birds’ remaining forest. Thousands of birds would be permanently displaced by loss of habitat through planned construction, with almost 2,000 acres of forested habitat set to be removed. In combination with disease, typhoons and the increased likelihood of invasion by exotic brown tree snakes that have decimated native bird populations on other islands, threats to the Tinian monarch leave the species in need of federal protection once again.

“To save the Tinian monarch, we have to spare its forest home. I’m happy to see that this special bird is one step closer to the protection that can do that,” said Easter.

The monarch is a 7.5-inch, tan-faced bird with a gray head, chocolate-brown back and dark wings with white bars. It feeds by catching insects and nests year-round in trees, with reduced nesting during periods of low rainfall. The monarch’s call sounds like a squeaky dog toy.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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