A Seabird Returned From Extinction

Bermuda petrel (cropped from Crossley ID Guide for Eastern Birds via Wikimedia Commons)
Bermuda petrel (from Crossley ID Guide for Eastern Birds via Wikimedia Commons)

As I mentioned earlier this week, my big reason for visiting Newfoundland is to see nesting seabirds, some of whom are threatened with extinction.  The plight of seabirds is a sad story but there are bright spots.  Here’s a seabird that came back from extinction.

Petrels are a group of tube-nosed pelagic birds who spend their lives far at sea and only come to land under cover of darkness to visit their hidden nests.  We only know they’re on land if they make noise at night.

Back in 1612 people knew about the Bermuda petrel (Pterodroma cahow) because it made a loud “cahow” sound inside its nest burrow.  But the settlers were hungry so they ate all the cahows.  After that, the Bermuda petrel was thought to be extinct for over 300 years.

When it was rediscovered in 1951 only 36 remained on earth. Now, almost 70 years later, there are 250 individuals thanks to the efforts of a very inspired man: David Wingate.

On Throw Back Thursday, read about the recovery of the Bermuda petrel in this 2010 article, Rare Bird: rediscovering the Cahow.


(image from the Crossley ID Guide to Eastern Birds via Wikimedia Commons; click on the image to see the uncropped original)

Day 5, July 12: HURRICANE CHRIS crosses the Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland this evening as a post-tropical storm. We went to St. Vincent’s Beach and Cape St. Mary’s on Wednesday while the weather was still good instead of going there today. This morning we are driving away from Trepassey before the storm hits nearby Cape Race this evening. Winds here will reach 56 mph. We will be in Clarenville by then.

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