Skip navigation
Go to home page > Our Work > Projects > Pinzon island restoration

Pinzon island restoration

Woodpecker finch in Galapagos
© Ian Henderson
Pinzon island, Galapagos
© Jen Jones


In 2012, Pinzon island was cleared of invasive rats after many of its native species became locally extinct, including the woodpecker finch. Ten years later, there are promising signs of ecological recovery, and GCT is supporting our partners to deliver surveys to track this, as well as efforts to re-establish a breeding population of woodpecker finches. Learnings from this will be vital for supporting reintroduction plans for songbirds on Floreana island and conservation plans for the Critically Endangered mangrove finch.

Project Partners

Fundación Jocotoco Galapagos National Park Island Conservation Charles Darwin Foundation Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust Konrad Lorenz Research Center

Pinzon in numbers

Brown rat

> 10

years since the eradication of invasive rodents

Galapagos rail on Santiago island


endemic bird species have naturally colonised Pinzon

Woodpecker finch


woodpecker finches were reintroduced to Pinzon in 2022

Cactus finch
© Kevin Watson

The problem

Like many other islands in Galapagos, black rats were accidentally introduced to Pinzon island in the late 19th century, becoming an invasive species. Predation by rats devastated the island’s ecosystem, partly due to the severe decline in successful reproduction of birds and reptiles, with eggs providing an easy meal for the rats. This includes the near local extinction of Pinzon’s giant tortoise population – there were only around 100 adult tortoises left in the wild in the 1960s.  

However, we are now looking at a conservation success story unfolding before our eyes. In 2012, removal of invasive rodents with poison bait successfully rid the island of their presence. In 2015, it was confirmed that Pinzon giant tortoises are reproducing in the wild again – a conservation win that was supported by a decades-long captive breeding programme led by the Galapagos National Park. Two native bird species in Galapagos have also naturally colonised the island – the Galapagos rail, which had never been previously recorded on Pinzon, and the cactus finch, a species considered locally extinct on Pinzon for more than 40 years. The island’s biodiversity is rebounding and conditions are now right for reintroductions of other locally extinct species to support its ecological recovery.

Translocating woodpecker finches to Pinzon island
© Jen Jones

How we’re tackling it

In June 2022, we began supporting the Galapagos National Park and Island Conservation with the first ever inter-island translocation of woodpecker finches to Pinzon. Birds were captured, tagged and banded from a large, healthy population on Santa Cruz island, with captive holding plans for the finches informed by finch holding trials delivered on Floreana island in 2019-2020. In June, 11 birds were released on Pinzon and a further 12 birds were released in July. We continue to support post-release monitoring of the birds, including monitoring whether the birds attempt to fly home, helping to determine whether translocation of more woodpecker finches should go ahead and if any methods need adjusting.  

These surveys have been done in combination with surveys to monitor biodiversity recovery on the island, including during a survey marking the ten-year anniversary of the rodent eradication on Pinzon. During field work for these surveys, local specialists have been trained in the techniques and methods of songbird capture, captive holding, release and monitoring, paving the way for the future reintroductions to be supported by local teams.  

The learnings from these activities will not only be vital for continuing to restore Pinzon’s ecosystem, but helping to inform plans for the restoration of Floreana island, including species reintroductions, where an eradication is planned for October 2023.

Galapagos rail
© Ian Dunn

Project goals

  • Track biodiversity recovery on Pinzon over time 
  • Evaluate the reintroduction of woodpecker finches on Pinzon island 
  • Apply learnings to potential future reintroductions on Pinzon and for other Galapagos songbirds within the Archipelago including Endangered and Critically Endangered species.
Woodpecker finch
© Heikki Kainulainen

Project updates

Galapagos giant tortoise amongst vegetation
12th Sep 2023
Island restoration Rewilding

Rewilding Galapagos: Giving nature a helping hand

What does rewilding mean in the context of Galapagos, where 97% of the land is already a protected National Park?
Read more
Galapagos Day 2022 at the Royal Geographical Society, London
25th Oct 2022
Biodiversity loss Events

Galapagos Day 2022: Protecting Species & Preventing Extinctions

On Thursday 20 October we were delighted to return to the Royal Geographical Society for our first in-person Galapagos Day since 2019.
Read more
Little vermilion flycatcher
27th Apr 2022
Events Island restoration

Protecting the Birds of Galapagos webinar 2022

Our webinar focussed on some of the most urgent issues facing Galapagos land birds, and the great steps that have been taken to tackle the threats and restore the biodiversity that we have lost. 
Read more
9th Mar 2017
Invasive species

Invasive pigs in Galapagos

Humans have brought many alien species to the Galapagos Islands but, unlike rodents, insects and weeds, some of these have in fact been intentional introductions.
Read more

How you can help

By supporting Galapagos Conservation Trust you are making a vital contribution towards safeguarding the future of these Enchanted Isles and their unique wildlife.

Get the latest news from Galapagos

Join our mailing list to receive our monthly email newsletter, bringing you the latest news on Galapagos and our work to protect the Islands.

Share This Page