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Surprise as cahows return early

Home builders: Jeremy Madeiros, the Bermuda Government Conservation Officer, left, and Charles Eldermire of Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, examine an artificial burrow for cahows on Nonsuch Island, St George’s (Photograph supplied)

Bermuda’s cahow nesting season got off to an early start this year as breeding pairs returned to their burrows quicker than usual.

Jeremy Madeiros, the Government’s principal land conservation officer, said: “Many of the birds are returning a week ahead of normal, possibly because of favourable weather and good amounts of food in their traditional feeding grounds in the cold waters north of the Gulf Stream.

“The remaining breeding pairs should be returning by the first week in November and all the birds examined thus far are in good condition which bodes well for a good breeding season.”

Mr Madeiros said he hoped that last year’s record number of 124 breeding pairs will increase to at least 130 breeding pairs this season.

He added: “This would represent a significant recovery, thanks to an intensive management programme, from the original number of just 17 to 18 pairs in the 1960s.”

Bermuda’s national bird has undergone an intensive management system on the Nonsuch Island Nature Reserve and surrounding islets.

Cameras in their nests mean they are watched by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The birds are filmed in their underground nests using live-stream, infrared cameras that cause little disruption to the birds.

Jean-Pierre Rouja, of LookBermuda, said: “Our star CahowCam pair were among the first to return with the female arriving on the night of the 25th and her mate on the 26th.

“The new upgraded HD camera system was already live streaming which allowed our followers from around the world to get a preview of the reunited pairs’ courtship activities after having spending several months apart.”

Charles Eldermire, Cornell Lab of Ornithology bird cams project leader added: “Viewers have been asking when the Cahow Cam would return, and we’re excited to share these intimate views of the cahow pair during their November courtship.”

The CahowCam pair returned on October 25 and 26.

The CahowCam network is run by LookBermuda with the Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology in New York.