Record number of cahow nesting pairs
A record number of nesting pairs of cahows have been identified so far this season.
Jeremy Madeiros, senior terrestrial conservations officer, said that the “best indications” suggest that there are about 125 breeding pairs of the birds.
He added: “The entire breeding population only consisted of 17 to 18 breeding pairs when the recovery programme began in the early 1960s.”
Mr Madeiros said a pair is only considered a breeding pair if an egg is produced, whether or not it hatches.
He said that a small number of established pairs who have produced chicks in past years may take a “sabbatical year”.
Mr Madeiros explained: “This usually enables them to recover and resume egg laying and chick rearing the following year.”
The progress of the first Nonsuch Island-produced cahows will also be monitored by staff at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources this year.
The birds were eradicated from Nonsuch and the larger islands of Bermuda as early as 1620 due to hunting and predation by introduced animals, including dogs, cats and pigs.
Cahows were reintroduced to Nonsuch between 2004 and 2008. After spending three to five years at sea, the birds returned to the island and started nesting in artificial burrows.
The first chick to hatch on the island headed out to sea in 2009.
The new colony of birds has produced 54 chicks in the last eight years.
Two chicks returned to the island last year and they are expected to produce eggs this season.
Walton Brown, Minister of Home Affairs, congratulated Mr Madeiros for his work to bring Bermuda's national bird “back from the brink of extinction”.
Mr Brown said: “To see how far this project has come since its inception is truly incredible, as is the extent of its international reach.
“The Bermuda cahow is a world-renowned success story in the field of terrestrial conservation and species preservation.”
A video of Mr Madeiros conducting an exam on a bird can be viewed at www.nonsuchisland.com/blog/great-start-to-2018-cahow-nesting-season.
The CahowCam Project was started as a partnership between the Government and Jean-Pierre Rouja in 2013.
It provides updates and information on the programme and also discourages large groups from visiting the island.
Mr Rouja said the camera allows the documentation of “never before seen behaviours”.
He added: “Last season through our new partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology we extended our reach to 600,000-plus viewers who watched a combined 8.5 million minutes of footage.”
Mr Rouja said new interactive features are planned for this upcoming season.