Leach’s Storm Petrel borrows Cahow Burrow in Bermuda

A Cahow burrow was taken over by a Leach’s Storm Petrel in June of this year and by a stroke of good luck, the unique event was caught on the Nonsuch Island infrared Cahow Cam. The camera was watching a Cahow chick hatch, grow and fledge but right after the bird fledged, a new inhabitant, the Leach’s Storm Petrel, made the burrow home. It’s the first the species has been recorded as attempting to nest in Bermuda.

P Rouja from the Nonsuch Expeditions Team said:

“This year we left the camera running after the [Cahow] chick had fledged on June 5th to see what happens immediately after the burrow is abandoned, and sure enough as happened last year within an hour a land crab made its way into the burrow to start feeding on the nesting materials.

To our utmost surprise however around 4 am a small petrel looking seabird first called into and then entered the chamber as if prospecting for a new nest site. This bird was less than half the size of a Cahow with a different vocal pattern so we knew it was something new. He spent about an hour rummaging around and then departed before sunrise leaving all of us who were watching online not sure what we had just witnessed and thankful that it had been recorded.”

The bird spent over a month rearranging nest material and calling for a mate. These little seabirds are usually found nesting almost 1000 miles away in Canadian waters.

Meanwhile, the Cahows had a great 2016, with six out of ten chicks fledging and 58 birds fledging from the colony.

The Project blog noted, “What is now evident is that through the ongoing successful management and protection of the slowly increasing Cahow colony there are other positive unintended consequences such as encouraging other species to nest here as well”

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