First Longtail of Spring Spotted on South Shore

February 4, 2011

The return to fine weather has encouraged the first longtail to return to Bermuda this spring. Andrew Dobson, President of the Bermuda Audubon Society noticed one flying along South Shore early yesterday morning [Feb 3] near Church Bay.

Longtail Bird Bermuda 2010-2

He commented, “Small numbers of longtails are usually seen in the early part of February but the majority do not return until March or April. These birds have been spending the winter on tropical waters to our south. They only come ashore to breed, each pair laying a single egg.”

“Bermuda is a very important breeding location for the White-tailed Tropicbird (longtail) with as many as 2,000 pairs returning to our shores each summer. Over the years, cliff nesting sites have been lost due to housing and commercial developments, not to mention cliff collapse due to severe storms. The natural cliff cavities in which longtails nest can take hundreds of years to form. The Audubon Society has initiated a successful programme of artificial nest ‘igloos’ for longtails. Hundreds of these have been installed on appropriate sites around Bermuda.”

Mr. Dobson added “I would urge members of the public to check regular nest sites and remove any trash that may have become lodged in cliff holes. Providing a small amount of sand in the base of the nest will also encourage the longtails to breed as the egg is laid on bare rock. One of the main concentrations of breeding longtails is around Castle Harbour. That is one of the reasons why Cooper’s Island nature reserve does not allow dogs at any time of the year. Where dogs are allowed in coastal parks and reserves such as Spittal Pond, dogs must be on a leash. Unleashed dogs, however well trained may cause longtails to abandon their nests.”

[File photo]

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  1. Antoine says:

    Saw three Longtails flying faily high off Hinson Island yesterday 14th March.

    Also saw what I thought was Spring, but not sure on that one yet!