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Record number of Cahow breeding pairs logged

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Jeremy Madeiros, the Department of Environment and Natural Resource’s principal scientist for terrestrial conservation with one of the cahows on Nonsuch Island (Photograph supplied)

A recovery programme for the rare cahow has logged a record number of breeding pairs this year.

The number of pairs on Nonsuch Island, off St George’s, increased from 143 breeding pairs last year to 156 this year.

The cahows are identified with bands and filmed in their burrows with a customised infrared camera created by Jean-Pierre Rouja, the Nonsuch Expeditions team leader.

Jeremy Madeiros, the Department of Environment and Natural Resource’s principal scientist for terrestrial conservation, said breeding cahows had returned to their burrows by last week.

They were able to check the band numbers of 80 adult cahows and assess the weight and general body condition of the birds.

Mr Madeiros added: “Included in this are the four cahows from the two CahowCam nests, all of which returned safely.

“In addition, all nine of the new nesting pairs that only formed last season have now returned to Nonsuch for this season and will hopefully produce their first eggs together later into the season.”

He added: “As of this date, we are halfway through the courtship and nest building phase of the breeding season.”

Mr Madeiros said the birds would leave their nests in December to return to the open sea for four to five weeks of intensive feeding, the females to develop their single large egg and the males to fatten up so they could carry out egg incubation duties.

Mr Rouja said that when he filmed Mr Madeiros doing a nest check for the most recent video, he was surprised to find an unbanded adult female. -

He added: “The pair in that particular burrow had previously been productive but had not produced a chick for the past two years and we now suspect that the original female has not returned for some reason.

“Jeremy had seen the male earlier this season but this is the first time for this new female.

“Each season he is able to band virtually all of the chicks in accessible burrows throughout the colony but there are a handful located in natural deep crevices on the outer islands that he can’t reach and therefore fledge unbanded, this female being one of them.”

Watch the CahowCam live here.

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Published November 25, 2021 at 11:01 am (Updated November 25, 2021 at 11:02 am)

Record number of Cahow breeding pairs logged

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