Fledgeling Nemo flies nest in record time

  • Comeback kings: the cahow population has risen from 17 pairs in 1951 to 134 in 2020

    Comeback kings: the cahow population has risen from 17 pairs in 1951 to 134 in 2020


The star of CahowCam this year has taken flight in record time.

Jeremy Madeiros, the chief terrestrial conservation officer, said the chick, named “Nemo”, left the nest on Nonsuch Island shortly after 2am on May 25.

Mr Madeiros said: “At 86 days old, this is one of the shortest cahow fledging times that I have logged.

“This is due in part to this season cahow parents throughout the colony finding food closer to Bermuda, allowing for shorter foraging flights and more frequent feeding visits.

“This in turn has resulted in a record number of chicks exceeding 400 grams and, in general, healthier chicks throughout the colony.”

Nemo hatched on February 28 on CahowCam1, a streaming video broadcast from inside a cahow nest.

Since then, researchers and the public have been able to watch the chick mature and eventually take flight.

Jean-Pierre Rouja, the Nonsuch Expeditions team leader, said: “While scientists and followers from around the world watched the livestream, I spent the night remotely controlling the infrared camera that is mounted above ground to track Nemo’s activities as he explored and exercised around the colony throughout the night.

“He alternated between short naps in the burrow and a lot of wing stretching in and out of the burrow, followed by extending his wings and going though the motions of flight — all of which we captured in great detail.”

Mr Rouja said Nemo was last spotted just before 2am as he made his way up a hill behind the colony.

A viewer then spotted Nemo flying past the camera.

Mr Rouja added: “We were also watching, but clearly missed this two-second blur, which proves once again the value of crowdsourcing our followers to help monitor the 24/7 cameras for months at a time, as we have been doing in conjunction with our partners, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.”

While Nemo has left the nest, CahowCam2, located in another burrow, is still live, with the chick inside expected to set off in the next few days.

The cahow was believed to have been wiped out after British settlement in the 1600s.

However, the species was rediscovered in 1951 in nests on rocky islets in Castle Harbour, which sparked a major conservation effort.

Two colonies were established on Nonsuch Island through a relocation effort and the species colonised Southampton Island on their own in 2013.

The population has risen from 17 or 18 nesting pairs in 1951 to a record 134 pairs this year.

To view the live CahowCam, visit nonsuchisland.com

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Published Jun 3, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 3, 2020 at 6:52 am)

Fledgeling Nemo flies nest in record time

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