Barbuda bird population census long overdue

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The Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) says a survey monitoring the status and trends of the bird population on Barbuda has not been recorded since a 2008 census.
Now approaching the 10 year-mark, Shanna Challenger, EAG member and ecologist, says the impact of Hurricane Irma on the Bird Sanctuary brought home the point that a better record of the bird population is needed.
The EAG members intends to carry out an in-depth survey in March 2018, a timeline that Challenger said was selected to coincide with the last survey done in February and March 2008. She added that the analysis would be taken after the Magnificent Frigate Birds’ breeding season and “just before the chicks are fledgling.”
 “This would include counting the nests, chicks, the adults present (which males pouch is still inflated) and how many juveniles are there.”  Challenger said if that data was available before the recent storm, environmentalists could easier compare those reports with what was captured in the avian population immediately after the storm.
Challenger said in an exclusive interview that the endemic Barbuda Warbler was the focus of an eight-member team that has been monitoring the bird sanctuary and surrounding areas. Preliminary reports indicate 2,500 Barbuda warblers were found within 9,000 hectares.
The team featured representatives from the Department of Environment (DOE), Flora and Fauna International (FFI), Antigua Forestry Unit and Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology which conducted a joint-survey for over a week.
The first of its kind rapid population assessment was used to determine a “baseline” that can be used to monitor future populations
Challenger said although the EAG is grateful to the international agencies which have provided technical support to gather data on the birds, locals also make up the teams which carry out the research. She explained that is important to have qualified Antiguans and Barbudans who can do surveys when all the attention the birds are generating fades and there is need for additional monitoring.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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