New hope for a species once thought to be extinct
For release: March 2, 2017 – Ithaca, NY–After nearly 51 days of nonstop incubation, the single egg in the underground burrow of a pair of endangered Bermuda Petrels should hatch in the next 24 to 48 hours and is being broadcast live at allaboutbirds.org/cahows. The pair of petrels featured on camera are nesting in a manmade burrow on Nonsuch Island. Being able to witness the hatching is the result a collaboration among the Bermuda Department of Environment and Natural Resources (BDENR), The Nonsuch Expeditions, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Cams project.
Once the chick hatches, it parents will spend the next three to four months traveling thousands of miles over the Atlantic Ocean foraging for squid and small fish to feed to the hungry youngster. If all goes well, the chick will leave for the open ocean sometime around the start of June.
The Bermuda Petrel (also known as the “Cahow”) is one of the most endangered species of birds in the world, with only about 130 breeding pairs. All breed in small colonies on a series of islands just off Bermuda. This “Lazarus” species was thought to be extinct nearly 400 years ago following the colonization of Bermuda, but was rediscovered in 1951. Now, after decades of conservation efforts by the Bermuda government, the population has grown by nearly a factor of 10.
The manmade burrows are painstakingly built by the Bermuda Department of Environment and Natural Resources to expand the nesting habitat available to returning petrels. Efforts to live stream from a petrel burrow began in 2013 as a collaboration between the Bermuda DENR and The Nonsuch Expeditions to learn more about the habits of the nesting birds and to increase awareness of the species’ plight. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology joined the effort in 2016, augmenting the underground camera technology and sharing the conservation efforts with the audience of their popular Bird Cams project through both the live view from the nest and future live events with BDENR petrel expert Jeremy Madeiros during nest monitoring.