- Bermuda Petrel
name = Bermuda Petrel (Cahow)
status = EN | status_system = IUCN3.1
trend = up
image_width = 200px
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
genus = "
species = "P. cahow"
binomial = "Pterodroma cahow"
binomial_authority = (Nichols & Mowbray, 1916) The Bermuda Petrel, "Pterodroma cahow", is a gadfly
Commonly known in
Bermudaas the Cahow, a name derived from its eerie cries, this nocturnalground-nesting seabirdis the national bird of Bermuda, and a symbol of hope for natureconservation. It was thought extinctfor 330 years. Its dramatic rediscovery as a "Lazarus species", that is, a species found to be alive after being considered extinct for centuries, has inspired documentary filmmakers.
Initially superabundant throughout the
archipelago, the Cahow is a slow breeder, but excellent flier, and spends its adultlife on the open seas. At five years old it returns to its former nesting place and begins breeding, laying only one egg per season. Cahows mate for life.
The Cahows' eerie
nocturnalcries stopped the early Spanish seafarers settling the Islands out of superstition, as they thought the Isles were inhabited by Devils. Instead they put ashore hogs as a living foodstore for passing ships, and so began the onslaught on the Cahow's existence. Following Bermuda's colonisation by the English, introduced species like rats, catsand dogs, and mass killings of the birdsby early colonists decimated numbers. Despite being protected by one of the world's earliest conservation decrees, the Governor's proclamation "against the spoyle and havocke of the Cohowes," the birds were thought to have been driven to extinctionsince the 1620s.
1951, 18 surviving nesting pairs were found on rocky isletsin Castle Harbour, and a program was set up by David B. Wingateto build concrete burrows and wooden bafflers for the nesting tunnels in order to keep out the slightly larger, competing 'Bermuda longtail', and to restore the nearby Nonsuch Island to be a future viable base for the species.
Enjoying legal protection, the species has started to make a good recovery, The main threat for the future is lack of suitable breeding habitat.
Hurricane Fabiandestroyed many nesting burrows in 2003, and recently the larger and ecologically-restored Nonsuch Island is being repopulated with chicks, their translocation timed so they will imprint on these surroundings. [http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2008/03/Bermuda_Petrel.html] This work is being undertaken by the present Bermuda Conservation Officer Jeremy Madeirosassisted by the Australianpetrel specialist Nick Carlile. Nonetheless, the global population of this bird in 2005was only about 250 individuals.
* Database entry includes justification for why this species is endangered
*ARKive - [http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/birds/Pterodroma_cahow/ images and movies of the Bermuda petrel "(Pterodroma cahow)"]
* [http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=3910&m=0 BirdLife Species Factsheet]
** [http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2005/09/cahow.html BirdLife: "Cahows bounce back as Bermudians build burrows"]
** [http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2004/07/cahow_translocation.html BirdLife: "New island home for Cahow chicks"]
** [http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2006/03/cahow.html BirdLife: "Cahow class of 2002 return to breed"]
** [http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2008/03/Bermuda_Petrel.html BirdLife: "Bermuda Petrel returns to Nonsuch Island (Bermuda) after 400 years"]
* [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/lhbcb:@field(DOCID+@lit(lhbcb0262adiv23)) Library of Congress early written records]
* [http://www.strangeark.com/bfr/archive/historical/New-Light-Cahow.pdf "NEW LIGHT ON THE CAHOW, PTERODROMA CAHOW" Report on the Cahow rediscovery in 1951]
* [http://www.rarebirdfilm.com Lucinda Spurling's documentary film website]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR5_CMTMac8 sample from
Lucinda Spurling's film Rare Bird, on YouTube]
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