What Happened to the Birds?


Black -capped Petrel (diablotin)

After hurricanes Irma and Maria plowed through the Caribbean, many wondered what had happened to the birds? There are 172 bird species found only in the Caribbean. Some of them are found on a single island, 56 of them are threatened by extinction.  Because some birds are endemic to so few islands a hurricane can easily wipe them out. So it was not surprising that many bird enthusiasts feared the worst.  Today the news is more hopeful. Bird conservationists have  made a special effort to report on some of the birds that were of  concern.


Dominica
The island of Dominica is fortunate to have 2 endemic parrots. However, one of them, the Imperial Parrot (Sisserrou) which is on the endangered list has not been seen since Maria. The other, the Red Necked Parrot (Jaco),  has been sighted. A few of them have been seen flying around at lower elevations.  The good news is that all of the birds housed in the Rare Species Conservatory on the island are all doing well.  
The Black-capped Petrel (Diablotin) or "little devil" is a very rare bird thought to be extinct until 1960 when it was re-discovered  in Haiti.  Scientists continued to search for other nesting areas for these rare birds.  Surprisingly, in 2015 radar detected about 1000 birds on Dominica; this bird had not been seen on the island since 1862. Just imagine, the "little devil" had existed on the Dominica unknown for more than 150 years! There is no word as to how the birds feared after the hurricanes. However,  there have been sightings as far as Georgia and Tennessee.

Barbuda


Magnificent Frigatebird

Hurricane Irma completely destroyed Barbuda. As a consequence the habitat of the Barbuda Warbler was destroyed. Most feared that the birds were all but decimated.  However, there is some good news. A few birds seemed to have survived. About 8 birds have been sighted on the island.
Barbuda has the largest colony of the Magnificent Frigatebird in the Western Hemisphere.  It is located in Codrington Lagoon. This colony was heavily affected by Irma.  It is reported that thousands of birds could have perished.  However there is some hope.   Some Frigatebirds have been spotted in Wisconsin, they are believed to be hurricane evacuees.

Bahamas
It seems that many of the American Flamingos on Inagua survived the hurricane. Sadly, the flamnigos in Coco Cays in Cuba were not as fortunate. It is reported that thousands of the birds perished.
 There was great concern for the Bahama Oriole which is only found on the island of Andros. It is a critically endangered species.  However, the good news is that their habitat feared very well during Irma. 

Puerto Rico
A few of the Puerto Rican Parrots seem to have been survived in the wild. Some of them who were in captivity were moved  to secure shelters before the hurricane and survived.
The Yellow-shouldered Blackbird is only found in Puerto Rico it numbers only a few hundred. Their coastal habitats were devastated by Irma and Maria. There has been no update on them since the hurricane.

Migratory Birds
These birds are also part of the communityThe Caribbean is home to over 120 species of birds that migrate there in the winter.  Even though, birds and hurricanes have always co-existed, the hurricanes of 2017 were unprecedented. No one really knows how those migratory birds were able to cope.   September is the height of the migration season.  This means that many  birds will arrive at their winter home and find reduced food sources.  The birds could also have been thrown off course.  Some may have even been swept back to their original homes.

The hurricane season of 2017 has certainly created a change in the bird habitats on many of the islands. Some scientists believe that there will be winners and losers. Some birds will lose their nesting space  while others will occupy the new ones.  They believe that birds in Caribbean have evolved to survive hurricanes for millions of years, so they remain optimistic about their survival after those devastating storms.

Sources:
The Auduborn 
American Bird Conservancy
                 

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