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Cameras put national bird on global stage

The project is focusing on cahow conservation

Bermuda’s national bird will be showcased to an international audience after LookBermuda’s award-winning Nonsuch Expeditions CahowCam project teamed up with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Cornell has an extensive network of livestreaming cameras and an audience of millions of viewers.

The partnership will allow LookBermuda, a local production company with an emphasis on education and research, to bring a renewed focus on the cahow conservation efforts in Bermuda starting with the 2017 cahow nesting season.

Now in its fifth season — the Nonsuch Expeditions CahowCam is broadcasting live and allowing people to see the birds’ behaviours undisturbed and as never seen before.

The Cornell Lab’s Bird Cams project leader, Charles Eldermire, said of the partnership: “Given their precarious future and their out-of-sight lifestyle, the cahows seemed like a perfect fit for the bird cams.

“The previous efforts and expertise of the Nonsuch Expeditions team made us even more confident about the opportunity that this partnership presented.”

Cole Simons, the Minister of Environment, Planning and Parks, added: “This collaboration with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology brings the World Wide Web of viewers to Bermuda on a daily basis to witness, as Jane Goodall characterised the project — ‘a reason for hope’ — an ongoing successful conservation and restoration project, which is a rarity in today’s world.

“Fifty years of care and commitment by the Bermuda Government, scientists, donor partners and the people of Bermuda can now be witnessed, through cutting-edge communications technology pioneered here in Bermuda through LookBermuda.

“This allows us to demonstrate our commitment and success to the world. It heralds a new era of international partnership for Bermuda, and is an example of co-operation that is needed across all of the natural resource management challenges we face today.

“With the right partners and level of commitment, hopefully they can all be as successful and promising as the Nonsuch Island cahow project.”

The birds’ underground nesting chamber is lit by a custom-built 940 nanometre military grade infrared lighting array in an award-winning design by LookBermuda for the Nonsuch Expeditions project. The system has been upgraded to include a side-view camera angle.

Jean-Pierre Rouja said: “This design is proving to be even more effective with this season’s camera upgrades. The new camera was installed underground and drilled through the limestone side of the nesting chamber.

“Head Terrestrial Conservation Officer Jeremy Madeiros and I spent a few days over the Christmas break excavating around the underground burrow, and in the end used a chainsaw to cut a vertical shaft in the limestone alongside the chamber, then drilled a shaft into the chamber to give the new camera a nest-level view into the nest.”

Visit www.nonsuchisland.com to watch the livestream.