The Mexican government is joining two U.S. environmental organizations in a $4 million project to help seabirds recover in the islands off the Pacific state of Baja California, the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat said Monday.

The project, which will run from 2012 to 2016, is designed to restore populations of seabirds of shared interest between the countries in the Pacific Ocean that have prime habitats on Mexican islands off Baja California, located in the northwestern part of the country, the secretariat said.

A total of 17 seabird species nest on the islands and some face the risk of extinction, Environment Secretary Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada said.

The restoration and conservation work will be coordinated by a binational consortium made up of various environmental organizations, including the Fondo Mexicano de Conservacion de la Naturaleza and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a unit of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

"Decoys, fake bird colonies, mirrors and soundtracks of songs and calls will be used to attract the birds to the islands, with the goal of having individuals return to the sites from which they left and once they recolonize, their offspring will return to the site year after year in a natural way," the secretariat said.

Invasive predator species introduced by humans were the main reason the seabirds abandoned the islands, the secretariat said, adding that the predators had been eradicated.

Oil spills and the use of chemicals in the United States also affected seabird populations on the islands, the secretariat said.

Brown pelicans, cormorants and petrels are among the seabirds from a vast region extending along the eastern Pacific from Alaska to Baja California that are expected to benefit from the project.