Bermuda Petrel

The Bermuda Petrel (Pterodroma cahow), is a gadfly petrel. It is commonly known as the Cahow in Bermuda. It is the national bird of Bermuda as well. It is a symbol of hope for natural conservation. It is a slow breeder, returning to its former nesting place after it turns 5 years old and laying one egg per season. Though protected, the bird is at risk due to predation from rats, cats and dogs in Bermuda.

It was thought to be extinct for nearly 330 years until its dramatic rediscovery in 1951. 18 surviving pairs were found on rocky islets in Castle Harbor, and a program was set up by David B. Wingate to build concrete burrows and wooden bafflers for the nesting tunnels in order to keep out the slightly larger, competing “˜Bermuda Longtail’, and to restore the nearby Nonsuch Island to be a viable base for the species.

Enjoying legal protection, the species has started to make a good recovery. The main threat for the future is lack of suitable breeding habitat. Hurricane Fabian destroyed many nesting burrows in 2003, and recently the larger and ecologically-restored Nonsuch Island is being repopulated with chicks, their translocation timed so they willimprint on these surroundings. This work is being undertaken by the present Bermuda Conservation Officer Jeremy Madeiros assisted by the Australian petrel specialist Nick Carlile. Nonetheless, the global population of this bird in 2005 was only about 250 individuals.