Crows Threatening Bermuda Longtail Population

September 26, 2013

The Department of Conservation Services said they have become “increasingly concerned about the impact that crows are having on Bermuda’s iconic Longtail.”

The American Crow is a large, all-black bird with a long, heavy bill and fan-shaped tail, which is easily recognizable and a fairly common bird in Bermuda.


“It is not native to Bermuda, and is listed as a pest species,” explained Senior Conservation Officer Jeremy Madeiros. “Bermuda was probably without crows until 1838, when two crows were introduced as pets from Nova Scotia.”

The Department of Conservation Services has long recognized that this predator has always taken small numbers of Longtail eggs, usually from more open nests.

However in 2009 the Department noticed a worrisome change in behaviour when over 50 Longtail egg remains were found on the Castle Point property at the end of the Tucker’s Town peninsula.

After an investigation if was found that all these eggs had been taken by one small group of 4 crows. Further to this a group of crows were observed a number of times with downy Longtail chicks in their beaks, which were then killed and eaten.

“As each nesting pair of Longtails generally produce only one egg annually, this represented a major impact on the population of Longtails nesting in the Castle Harbour area, which contains one of the largest nesting concentrations for this species of seabird in the North Atlantic Ocean,” said Mr. Madeiros.

“The concern was that this group of crows was specifically targeting Longtails, pinpointing the nesting sites by watching to see which holes they were flying to in the cliffs and then mobbing the adults to chase them out of the nests and snatch the eggs or young chicks.”

Three of these crows were eradicated by a Department Pest Control Officer, which greatly reduced the number of Longtail nests affected for the next few years. However, a new group of crows moved onto the Nonsuch Island/Castle Harbour area in the spring of 2013, and this year large numbers of predated eggs have been found on several of the islands.

predated longtail eggs

On one island alone, over 15 nests were robbed out of a total of 40 on the island, and tallies of all eggshells found show that between 75 and 100 nests were robbed, with some of the islands having almost half of the active breeding pairs losing their only chance to produce a chick this year.

This destruction was caused by only 6 or so crows, and as crows readily learn new feeding techniques from other crows, if this number was allowed to grow, it could endanger the entire nesting population of the much-beloved Longtail on Bermuda.

Consequently, efforts were undertaken to reduce this problem by Pest Control Officers, who were able to remove 3 of these crows.

“At this time the problem is location-specific due to the relatively narrow concentrations of Longtails in specific nesting areas and because Crows are territorial,” explained Director of Conservation Services Drew Pettit. “However the great concern is that the problem could potentially grow quickly.”

Yearly monitoring, and if necessary, continued control of crows will be carried to prevent serious impact to Bermuda’s internationally important Longtail population and agricultural interests.

Fortunately there is evidence that artificial Longtail “Igloo” nests, which have been increasingly installed on the Castle Harbour Islands and elsewhere on Bermuda, are [if correctly installed] more difficult for the crows to steal eggs from because they usually have smaller entrances. Over 100 of these artificial nests have already been installed on Nonsuch and some of the other Castle Harbour Islands, with plans for more to be installed in the near future.

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Comments (40)

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  1. Come Correct says:

    Where’s ya boy’s bb gun when you need it?

  2. Loquatz says:

    Crows all over S Shore – I’ve noticed their populations growing in recent years along the beaches.

  3. Stop Complaining for 1 Sec says:

    Crows & pigeons are 2 birds we can get rid off in Bermuda. We should allow residents to hunt n kill them for a few months of the year, like they allow gaming in other countries.
    May the best shot win.
    Slingshot that is….

    • Chick Filet says:

      Yes I…I’m going old school and going to take apart a bed box spring so I can bake my slingshot and kill dem birds!

  4. Triangle Drifter says:

    I bet the local gun club would be happy to help out. They would be far more effective than talking about the problem.

  5. Believe me Triangle Drifter we tried but were turned down at every avenue…..Crows, Chickens ect.

    I’m a member of local gun club.

    • Come Correct says:

      Might be because your rounds won be stopped by a crow or pigeon and could possibly hit someone.

      • Ahh no Come Correct, we wouldn’t be using our normal rifles or shotguns (which by the way are regularly used by others locally) we asked to use air rifles and no one with any competency with firearms would ever shoot at a target without consideration of a backstop.

        We are not idiots and most of us have decades of internationally recognized firearms experience both in sport shooting and hunting.

        • Come Correct says:

          I can understand that but will the government take that chance. I once found a bullet from an SLR, not the casing, on the big rocks at the beginning of horseshoe bay, how did that get there?

          • bdasharpshooter says:

            And just what do you think is used now for culling pests? spit balls?

            Considering that area has been used for live firing for over 100 years it’s not uncommon to find bullets or casings.

            If you found a bullet in the rocks intact it’s very unlikely it was actually fired and if it was flattened without weighing it would be pretty hard to prove it wasn’t a .303 vs. 7.62, as even when firing into sand most bullets of that size end up looking like a misshapen penny.

            • Come Correct says:

              That’s funny I pulled a round out of the wood on the regiments 100m range that was facing the direction it was shot from….how did that happen? I can tell you because I saw the entry, saw the nail it hit and pulled it from the exit fully in tact other than the shape of a slight arc. There is absolutely no sure way to know what your round will do once it leaves the barrel. Rounds don’t always distort when they hit, they can cool in the air depending.on the distance fired, but you should know this.

              • bdasharpshooter says:

                Good Gawd, that is above Warwick Long Bay not the beginning of Horseshoe Bay!

                So by your logic no round is ever fired in a safe and secure manner?

                How many people have been injured by the callous use of that range by your count in the last 50 years of use?

                It’s not the hot or cool air that distorts a round, its the impact you numpty, but you know everything about shooting and its risks, don’t you?

                • Come Correct says:

                  Its the heat from ignition that warms the hot metal ass. It is molten copper when initially fired but you’re the “shatpshooter” so clearly you know it all. Metal doesn’t cool in air? Either you know f*** all of physics and people should steer clear of you with a firearm or again you’re just being defensive of your club, and again in no way was I attacking it. It’s dangerous crossing a crosswalk .

                  • Come Correct says:

                    again sorry, its not above warwick long bay is is warwick long bay/joplans cove and also they are 2 separateffindingsaand I still have both rounds plus more, some shattered from hitting rock like you said. So thank you for proving my point that the ‘what ifs’ are limitless……Que the defense of the gun club. SMH

                    • derealsharpshooter says:

                      look at you being all badass, holding onto someting which is illegal might I add, highly. They’re not from an SLR btw, and the bullets don’t melt from ignition lmao they contort when they hit the object, and if you found that bullet intact then most likely it wasn’t fired at all, and you should turn it in, obviously since you’ have no use for it.

                    • Come Correct says:

                      That’s insane, how did you do that? You can literally tell me what the rounds are without ever seeing them? The bent one I found is front a GPMG and the other IS an SLR round. No the rounds don’t literally melt or they wouldn’t be too effective would they? The rounds heat up and warp, the same reason you can’t shoot into water effectively because the round shatters from heat fractures going hot to cold so fast. I think I just figured out why they won’t allow you to shoot birds. Knowitall’s that don’t know anything at all with gun get people killed. Finally do you really honestly think the police are worried about a bent round, a shattered round and one I have no means of reloading and refiring? The public uproar of wasting taxpayers funds taking someone to court for finding something on a public beach would be funny.

    • Chick Filet says:

      Let the gun club guys that shoot up in the hills in Smiths (off St Marks Rd) shoot the dozens of cows that live in the same hills that they shoot clay discs. No houses or people in the area for them to hit with a stray shot. Even better @sharpshooter, next time you club meets, kill those crows by mistake.

  6. Truth is killin' me... says:

    On a serious note, are slingshots still ilegal here? I’ve got a of those crows scratching up my freshjly painted roof and they are a nuisance with their droppings. I’ll buy one if they’re not illegal.

    • Come Correct says:

      I think factory made sling shots are but I believe you can make your own. All you need is some surgical tubing like what’s used on the back end of a fishing spear and you’re basically set.

      • Ahhh wrong again Come Correct, any slingshot is illegal in Bermuda

        • Come Correct says:

          Cool go argue the police contact that told me also look up the prohibited weapons list while you’re at it. Do you think I was attacking the gun club in my earlier comment and now you want to come at me some way? They won’t let you shoot things because there’s already a shooting.problem here. What if you’re out culling and a group of guys stomp your face in and take your rifle, air or not, and use it in an armed robbery? They will not take chances when there are other options available. Get it? Trust me I like a little firearm action too. They don’t even want you guys to have firearms here to begin with, aren’t you guys dealing with that now? What makes you think they’re going to let you shoot living things? You say no competent firearm user would make a shot without considering the backdrop. Do you go and survey the spot you’re firing at so you can get the precise trajectory of the recochete that could end up in a child’s face? When it comes to firearms the what ifs are endless. Go blow off a few rounds you’ll feel better.

          • bdasharpshooter says:

            You were correct, a weapon known as the “catapult” or “slingshot”, if commercially manufactured and designed for the hunting of small game or target practice is illegal but get stopped with a homemade slingshot and handfuls of BB’s……need I say more?

            Again, what do you think is being used to cull birds around the island now? Harsh words? How many persons have been stomped in their faces and had their rifles air or other and shotguns taken and used in an armed robbery? Get it?

            “They” don’t want anyone to have firearms, correct.

            I don’t know if you are aware but daily thousands if not hundreds of thousands of children are not victims of ricochets to the face when someone is shooting. When you shoot anything you and you alone are responsible for where that round, pellet or slug ends up. The what if’s are not endless, but are militated by caution and training.

            To put shooting’s safety into perspective, compared to shooting a person is . .

            11 times more likely to be injured playing volleyball
            19 times more likely to be injured snowboarding
            25 times more likely to be injured cheerleading or bicycle riding
            34 times more likely to be injured playing football or skateboarding

            Now I’ve not heard the resounding calls to ban those dangerous volleyballs or footballs, where could they be?

            If you and others who react and overreach without first being rational because you just don’t know what you just don’t know would slow down for a hot minute maybe most of the issues we are faced with in the “Bermuda’s Another World” saga would cease being issues.

            • Come Correct says:

              Again you’re going on the defensive. You just drew a confusion from statistics. Are you saying the people that came to these numbers have every single shooting incident, volleyball incident, football incident (need I fricken go on?) 100% documented? No they do not so your stats to me are a steaming pile of horseshit. People at the regiment 25m range have been hit with richocetes. Every safety put in place there and it still happens. At most ranges in the US I have been to they have rules against certain ammo and rapid fire because of the dangers. People at public ranges get hit with richocetes. I was at a range with safety eyeware and eyeware, the guy next tp me shot off a few rounds and obey of his piping hot casings popped over the divider and landed between my safety glasses and face. I pulled everything off my face within a split second but if I had no firearm experience I very well could have put a few rounds in people in a panic, and that is in a well controlled environment. Please continue to argue you ridiculous case. I may not shoot as much as you but.I do have plenty of experience. Anything can go wrong.

              • Come Correct says:

                I played volleyball all summer, bicycle kicks n all, not one injury. I did regiment for over 3 years, wanna go there?

              • Come Correct says:

                and sorry, how many people have been stomped with their weapons taken? None to my knowledge. How many rifles stolen and only a box recovered…Uh uh ya.

                • I would like to make apologies to the public at large who have been subjected this tirade of nonsense.

                  Come Correct, I bow down to your superior intellect to all things shooting, you after all spent 3+ years at Warwick Camp and can tell the difference between an SLR bullet and a GPMG bullet. I know now that you are a Ballistic God and I am but a mere mortal so I will sign off this thread and worship you from afar.

      • Um Um Like says:

        An oleander stick shaped like a Y and some inner tube off of an old bike is all it takes. A six year old could make it.

  7. DarkSideofTheMoon says:

    Get rid of the cranes while you are at it, they have eaten all the crabs…

    • Chick Filet says:

      Yup, and a few fishermen. And while we are at it…how about we all get out there and cut down the invasive Mexican pepper trees.

  8. Yes I says:

    Typical American…..go to a foreign land and devour the natives or drive em out!!!! Let the forum begin.

    :-) )))

  9. All the best in getting rid of the crow population?? can some one tell me is a crow not like the raven?? if so they will eat anything as we had problems with ravens back in England.Also the piegon and chicken populations are totaly out of control ..

  10. Milton says:

    I feel that the animals reflect the spiritual condition of the people. We definitely have plenty more ravens and less doves these days.

  11. P.S. @DarkSideofTheMoon as for the cranes my friend it is not the cranes but the contract workers who go out nights and take crabs by the bag full..

    • just a thought says:

      Actually 2 Cranes were brought in a few years ago to minimize the overgrowing population of the land crabs! Now they have pretty much wiped out the population and have taken over! I was very surprised to see them in Hamilton! Btw.. As a kid i used to enjoy seeing the crabs all along southshore!

      • fasho says:

        Is that where they all went! I agree with you, it’s kind of a shame.

  12. James Rego says:

    We don’t have Cranes (except those on construction sites) in Bermuda. What you are referring to are Night Herons. And they were reintroduced to control the Crab population. Golfer’s don’t like Crabs.