As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 28 June 2019

After the Storm: Can This Rediscovered Bird Recover?

 21 Jun 2019
Amongst the destruction and tragedy on Grand Bahama caused by Hurricane Matthew, there is an untold story of a rediscovered, but very threatened bird with a potential population of just two.
How low can a bird species’ population drop and still be saved from extinction? It’s an interesting theoretical question, and it became more than an academic one for scientists and conservationists last summer, when the Bahama Nuthatch Sitta insularis, a bird feared extinct, was rediscovered.
Prior to the rediscovery, the nuthatch had not  been seen since Hurricane Matthew ripped through Grand Bahama – the island on which the bird is endemic – in June of 2016. Two years on from the carnage, two students from the University of East Anglia, working in conjunction with BirdLife International and the Bahamas National Trust (BirdLife Partner) went on an expedition to catch sight of the bird.
“We had been scouring the forest for about six weeks, and had almost lost hope,” says Matthew Gardner of the rediscovery. “At that point we’d walked about 400 kilometres. Then, I suddenly heard its distinctive call and saw the unmistakable shape of a nuthatch descending towards me. I shouted with joy, I was ecstatic!”
The world was ecstatic along with him. The news made international headlines, and the ornithological world celebrated the rediscovery of the Bahama Nuthatch. But are the celebrations warranted? Gardner and his partner, David Pereira, saw the Bahama Nuthatch six times throughout their three-month survey, but they never saw two birds together, leading them to believe there may only be one individual left. A team of Bahamian students, led by Zeko McKenzie of Loma Linda University, independently recorded five sighting of the nuthatch in the same forest, and believe they may have seen two birds together. With only one or two Bahama Nuthatches left though, is it possible for the bird to make a comeback?

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