Bahamas National Trust trying to save rare bird

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) — The Bahamas National Trust is collaborating with the Omland Lab at the University of Maryland in the United States to determine a nesting habitat for the Bahama oriole on the island of Andros — where fewer than 300 of these rare birds are thought to live.Up to this point, orioles were thought to nest almost exclusively in developed areas, in non-native coconut palms. But initial research in 2011 observed adult birds foraging in pine and coppice forests.

Current research led by Dr Kevin Omland of the Omland Lab, discovered orioles nesting deep within the pine forests, demonstrating that Bahama orioles are able to utilise a wider range of habitats than previously thought, and this could have significant implications for understanding the population ecology and conservation needs of the endangered species.

The Bahama oriole originally lived on the islands Abaco and Andros, but was lost to Abaco in the 1990s.

According to the Orland Lab, the main causes of the decline on Andros include lethal yellowing disease of the coconut palm, which is the prime nesting habitat for the oriole, and the arrival and spread of the Shiny Cowbird, a brood parasite that lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species.

The cowbird reached Andros in the mid-1990s.

Other factors put forward include forestry work, forest fires, diseases, rodents, and feral cats — problems that affect many other birds, such as the Abaco parrot.

The Bahamas National Trust says work will continue with the Omland Lab with funding from the American Bird Conservancy.

The research looks at population estimates and conducting outreach on Andros to ensure that residents are aware of the endangered status of the Bahama oriole.

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