A month-long, high-tech project to survey one of the Caribbean’s most endangered birds, the Black-capped Petrel, has succeeded in identifying six previously unknown areas of petrel activity in the Dominican Republic: three flight corridors, and three possible nesting locations for the bird. Surveys also were conducted at seven sites in Haiti, a combination of new sites and areas where petrel activity was known previously.
Numbers of Black-capped Petrels have been in precipitous decline over the last 50 years with only an estimated 1,000 – 2,000 pairs remaining. Although they historically nested on other islands in the Caribbean, they are currently known to nest only on the island of Hispañiola – an Island shared by two sovereign nations, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Scientists hope that the surveys, which were carried out by Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC), Grupo Jaragua, and Société Audubon Haiti with support from American Bird Conservancy and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, will result in the identification and better management of critical breeding locations.
Black-capped Petrels only visit their nesting colonies at night, so scientists involved in the effort used modified marine radar equipment to survey locations in several mountain ranges in the two countries, principally in the southwestern and central portions of the island. Although petrels were detected in all of the 15 survey sites, only two sites registered large numbers of detections.