WEST INDIAN WOODPECKERS: EXPERT ADVICE & DELPHI CLUB NEWS


WEST INDIAN WOODPECKERS: EXPERT ADVICE & DELPHI CLUB NEWS

Here’s an article by Abaco Parrot expert Caroline Stahala. She also has in-depth knowledge of the habits of West Indian Woodpeckers, not least because her observations of the nesting in boxes provided for them last year at the DELPHI CLUB ABACO to discourage them from drilling into the building itself… See THE RELUCTANT WOODPECKER. Caroline’s article suggests helpful ways to co-exist with the ‘peckers. They are unlikely to change their endearing little, er, ‘pecker-dillos’, but there are ways and means to prevent them driving you crazy when they take a noisy liking to your eaves and guttering…

CLICK LINK===>>>LIVING WITH WEST INDIAN WOODPECKERS (Caroline Stahala) 

PETER MANTLE has just posted some news – including woodpecker and general wildlife news – from the DELPHI CLUB. After a detailed bonefishing report , he writes:

The best bonefish of recent weeks remains an 8-or-so-pounder. In a rare encounter with tarpon, 2 guests from England had several shots at a group of four fish in the twenty-to-thirty pound range, but had no time to switch over to proper tarpon flies and therefore, to use a cricketing expression, failed to trouble the scorer.

The gorgeous weather seems to have ennervated all the local wildlife, not just the parrots. Sightings of dolphins, turtles, eagle rays and ospreys in the Marls are now almost commonplace. Countless butterflies of different hues flit through the Club gardens. The woodpeckers are nesting again in the box just outside the office and the hummingbirds are constantly feeding just feet from my desk. It’s the time of year that dreams are made of.

The week was rounded off by your blogger-in-chief setting a new Club record – for the smallest ever bonefish, a brute of half a pound, taken off the Club beach on a Delphi Daddy after a titanic struggle lasting all of 30 seconds, with lemon shark looking on in expectation.

“FAVOURITE BIRD” POLL RESULTS FROM ABACO, BAHAMAS


ABACO FAVOURITE BIRD POLL RESULTS

RESULTS Here are the results of the recent Abaco Favourite Bird Poll, with apologies for an intermission in activity around here. We were away for a few days somewhere that turned out to be sunny, returning late last night to near-zero temperatures…

THE POLL started with five birds, but the Tropicbird was removed after a week having failed to chart. To begin with, it looked as though the parrots would stay way out in front, but the smallest rival gained ground, flew past and won the title.

THANKS to all who took part by voting and or commenting – a gratifying number, enough to make for a reasonably accurate result. It would be nice to know what bird the voters in the last category would have chosen instead of the candidates on offer…

THE OTHER POLL was designed to find out if people were finding that the ongoing woodpecker saga is becoming (has become?) tedious  or is providing a modicum of entertainment. Of relatively few responses (nb I did not vote), the result speaks for itself. I will take voting abstention / inertia to indicate either indifference or tolerance, and continue as and when a new drama occurs.

Best outcome? Chicks!  

ALL ABOUT BIRDS: IDENTIFICATION & BIRDSONG with Cornell Lab of Ornithology


The outstanding  Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology site has a comprehensive bird ID section. I recently posted about the new ID resource MERLIN for which they are inviting user-testing to help them perfect it. There are also 4 excellent videos concentrating on the principles ways in which birds can best be ID’d: size & shape; colour pattern; behaviour; and habitat

I haven’t yet cracked embedding the 4 videos so while the backroom boffins in the cerebral cortex puzzle it out (alongside ‘The Purpose of Hornets – What & Why?”) the best thing is to give a direct link to the website feature

CLICK LOGO ===>>> 

The same link will offer you the chance to download 5 bird songs – and now a second set of 5, part of the Great Backyard Bird Count currently underway – see details below. You may need to click on the images to make them legible…

ABACO PARROT NEWS FROM THE DELPHI CLUB


ABACO PARROT NEWS FROM THE DELPHI CLUB, ABACO
Caroline Stahala has emailed me with some excellent parrot news of daily sightings around the Club and in the coppice along the drives. It sounds as though, if we are very lucky, Caroline might take us to the nest sites when we are at Delphi in May…
TWO ABACO PARROTS ON THE DEAD TREE BY THE DELPHI FRONT DRIVE
“As far as current parrot news.  Well, they are all around the lodge at the moment.  I can hear the parrots each day right on cue at 7:30 in the morning and then again just after 4pm.  They have been foraging in the fruiting hardwoods in the area, especially the Gumbo Limbo (Bursera simaruba).  I am attaching a picture of a small flock I saw right on the drive in front of the house. A couple of pictures are close up of the parrots and the ones with the Delphi signs do have parrots in them, see if you can find them. They have even been spotted just behind the pool.  Let’s hope they decide to make this a habit. I am currently working on getting the summer field season organized… writing reports and grant applications is the necessary evil in order to have a summer field season”
PARROTS IN THE COPPICE BY THE DELPHI DRIVE (TOP LEFT)
A CLOSE-UP OF THE FLOCK – THERE ARE 6 VISIBLE (ONE IS PEEPING)
A FLOCK OF ABACO PARROTS
Credit: Laura Gooch @ Xeno-Canto

YOUR FAVOURITE ABACO BIRD: VOTE NOW FROM THE 4 NOMINEES


A NEW BIRDING DIVERSION

BAHAMA WOODSTARS LEAD VOTE NOW POLL CLOSES 29 FEBRUARY 

This could be fun. Unless no one bothers to participate. I’ve just found out how to do this, having wondered for a while what the little widget did. There may be some way for you to put your own choice, but I am a slow learner. Another time maybe. For now,  you can positively opt out of the nominated birds – your very own protest vote. Or you can all just ignore the whole thing, as I rather fear may happen… If this prototype bombs, I’ve only wasted a couple of hours, after all…

UPDATE: After a week, the order is (1) Bahama Woodstar (2) Abaco Parrot (3) Western Spindalis (4=) Banaquit and ‘Sorry…’ The poor Tropicbird got no votes and has been removed…

 

ABACO PARROTS ON VALENTINE’S DAY


THE FEAST OF ST VALENTINE 2012

Patron Saint of Cut Flowers, Boxed Sweetmeats & the Greetings Card Industry

Abaco Parrots quietly enjoying the romance of it all…

AN ABACO PARROT SAYS 3 LITTLE WORDS…


VALENTINE’S DAY IN TWO WEEKS? LEAP DAY IN A MONTH?              AN ABACO PARROT SAYS ‘I LOVE YOU’

Or it would if it could talk. Here is a win -win -win. ‘Adopt’ this miniature Abaco Parrot sculpture (ok, buy it) by Dou Dou Birds and all proceeds will go towards the conservation of the Abaco Parrot population. Then give it to someone. It’s an investment in art; a philanthropic deed; and a gift from the heart. Here’s the direct link (there are many other cute birds for sale too) To save parrots     CLICK THIS ONE===>>> 

Oh dear. Maybe someone else got there first. Never mind. How about making a donation to  PARROTS INTERNATIONAL?

This organisation allocates funding for the research into the Abaco Parrots and their conservation. You can now pay direct by Paypal or Credit Card (with gift tax benefits depending where you live). Please remember use the “Note to Seller” box to specify ‘ABACO PARROTS / CAROLINE STAHALA’

MEMBERSHIP /  DONATION PAGE   CLICK LOGO===>>> Parrots International

Then go ahead and buy that big box of chocolates you were going to get anyway…

ABACO NEWS: ART FOR THE PARKS / BAHAMAS NATIONAL TRUST DAY


SATURDAY 28 JANUARY 2012 – A DATE FOR THE DIARY

CLICK LOGO!

The images below tell you all you need to know about this excellent festival presented by the BNT in conjunction with the Abaco Beach Resort. From this blog’s point of view, the highlights are:

PRESENTATIONS by Nancy Albury on ‘The Blue Holes of Abaco'; by Ricky ‘Blue’ Jones on Bush Medicines / teas; and by Caroline Stahala on the Breeding & Behaviour of Abaco Parrots

ART The Art. Yes, all of it. Ok?

PRODUCE Something of everything, please. 

OTHER Everything else on offer…

The very best of luck with this event and best wishes for successful fundraising from Rolling Harbour

BAHAMA PARROTS: BAHAMAS NATIONAL TRUST DOCUMENTARY


BNT ABACO / INAGUA PARROT DOCUMENTARY

In August 2011 the Bahamas National Trust published a documentary about the resident Abaco and Inagua populations of this Cuban Parrot subspecies. It features research scientist Caroline Stahala, and contains plenty of information about these birds, their nesting and breeding habits, and the problems they face from predation. In places, some of the devastation caused by the extensive forest fires in March 2011 is still evident (see images in earlier POST). If you want to know more about these attractive (but noisy) birds, the documentary video below covers a great deal in 8 minutes…

THE INTRIGUING PARROTS OF GREAT ABACO ISLAND – PODCAST


A 5 minute PODCAST from ABC Radio’s ‘The Science Show’ featuring Caroline Stahala, research scientist and Abaco Parrot expert, and David Knowles of the Bahamas National Trust, Chief Park Warden for Abaco

The online report is headed by this: Holiday homes and resorts are replacing the forests in which the Bahamian parrot of Great Abaco Island breeds. When Christopher Columbus discovered the beautiful Bahamian islands in 1492, he wrote in his journal ‘the flocks of parrots obscure the sun’. Now the Bahamian parrot is confined to just two islands and they’re a protected species. On Great Abaco Island Bahamian parrots breed in the pine forests of the south and, as Pauline Newman discovered, their nesting behaviour is quite extraordinary”

CLICK HERE==>> ABACO PARROTS PODCAST – THE ABC SCIENCE SHOW

For the relevant web page and a transcript of the talk CLICK LOGO===>>> 

Thanks to the ABC Science Show for use approval – click name for more Podcasts

Abaco Parrot

SUPPORT ABACO PARROTS – NEW YEAR WRITING CONTEST!


ABACO PARROT SUPPORTER ‘DOU DOU BIRDS’ runs a monthly bird-centric writing contest. Not content with sculpting a cute miniature clay ABACO PARROT with all proceeds of sale going to the parrots, she has now showcased the AP for her New Year writing competition. To see her Post, & indeed if you want to take part                                                                                                                     CLICK LOGO==>> & to see the AP in her shop window             CLICK LOGO==>> 

ESSENTIAL SOUTH ABACO BIRD CHECKLIST FROM AVIBASE


The superb AVIBASE is a massive world-wide bird database – an essential reference point for birders, even the occasional enthusiast. Checklists, range maps, bird links, photos, bird sounds,  and even the facility to make your own contribution, all in one place. AVIBASE has been a work in progress for 20 years and now contains over 5 million records of about 10,000 species and 22,000 subspecies of birds, including distribution information, taxonomy, synonyms in several languages, and much more

Here is the CHECKLIST FOR SOUTH ABACO, the area that I am most familiar with. It probably holds good for the whole of Abaco and the Cays. If you are staying at the Delphi Club, Rolling Harbour, you need this – and especially if you are planning a birding adventure with Ricky Johnson… Be prepared! The plan is that you can download it or print it out from here

SOUTH ABACO BIRD CHECKLIST  click to open!

Here is an illustrative clip of one of the 6 pages 

If you have a problem printing it from here – or for access to photos of a great many of the birds listed, with clips of their calls and songs –  use this direct link  CLICK LOGO===>>>

CREDITS: The Avibase website is managed by Denis Lepage and hosted by Bird Studies Canada, Canadian copartner of Birdlife International

HELP SAVE ABACO PARROTS – DOU DOU’S ART INITIATIVE


WELCOME BACK! Normal service is resumed after the family festivities of Christmas, with only the precious gift of a fractured wrist for rh to spoil an otherwise lovely few days. Immediately, I can report excellent parrot news…               DOU DOU, an avid birder and sculptor of most engaging miniature birds, has taken up the cause of the Abaco Parrot. We have been corresponding for a while about this, and I now reproduce her latest post, with the link to her site below

BIRD SCULPTURE – ABACO PARROT

“Help, the cats are eating my babies!” said the parrot. And it’s true. These parrots are endangered – only 1000 of them left. A woman named Caroline is trying to save them from the feral cats that have invaded their island in the Bahamas. Let’s help her out! All proceeds from the sale of this parrot are going to Parrots International, which supports Caroline’s work. 

This little parrot measures 3.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches. You can buy it HERE from me and I will send the money to Parrots International or you can use “Other” to check out, send me proof you donated at least $30 to Parrot’s International, and I will send you a code that gives you $30 discount on this parrot so you will just pay for shipping – I will verify that a donation was made.

We can save these parrots! Let’s do it!!!!!

Read about Caroline’s work to save the parrots: ABACO PARROT RESCUE

doudou      CLICK LOGO to visit website ===>>>      

More about this exciting development in due course – other ideas are afoot… Abaco Parrot conservation is strongly supported by the Delphi Club, Abaco; and the research scientist heading the project, Caroline Stahala, is delighted with dou dou’s initiative in helping to raise the profile of her conservation work and in contributing to the funding received through PARROTS INTERNATIONAL

This organisation allocates funding for the research into the Abaco Parrots and their conservation. You can now pay direct by Paypal or Credit Card (with gift tax benefits depending where you live). Please remember use the “Note to Seller” box to specify ‘ABACO PARROTS / CAROLINE STAHALA’

Membership and Donation page   CLICK LOGO===>>>       Parrots International

SOUTH ABACO CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT 2011


Here is a clip taken from the excellent website THE ABACO SCIENTIST, with the kind permission of Dr Craig Layman of FIU. The brief summary of the South Abaco Bird Count 2011 by Elwood D. Bracey is of great interest, not least for the Delphi Club, from where guided Nature Tours take place and where there is a lot of enthusiasm for the birdlife of the island. 75 separate species were recorded this year, including all the known Abaconian endemics.

It is also a very fine photo of a male Bahama Woodstar courtesy of BIRD FORUM

ABACO NATURE TOURS WITH RICKY JOHNSON


ABACO NATURE TOURS with Ricky Johnson

Reluctant as I am to give Ricky even more publicity that he gets already – including passim in this blog – his Nature Tours are seriously good, and his  knowledge and enthusiasm for the flora, fauna, geology and history of Abaco are unrivalled. If you want to see a parrot close-up, understand a blue hole or learn which trees and shrubs are poisonous  (and which are the antidotes) he is undoubtedly your man. He will even show you birds where you have completely failed to see any & believe there are none  

To reach Ricky’s A N T website CLICK LOGO===>>> 

Advert ends (that will be $50 please Ricky)

              

ABACO PARROTS IN THE PINE FOREST


This is one of a number of sequential images posted by cfinke3856 on the website Webshots. It seems to have been taken in 2004, and shows 4 Abaco parrots in a pine tree (location unspecified – the National Park, maybe?). They look pleasingly convivial, and they provide a chance to roll out the newly created  rh parrot logo

Normally I would have cleared permission for use (and slight cropping) and given a click-through link so you could see the rest of the (similar) images. However, the website is a nightmare. A pop-up offered me the chance – apparently a near-certainty – of winning $10,000, and froze my cursor when I tried to delete it. Twice. Other untempting offers were made in a rage-inducing way. So I’ll spare you all that, warn you briskly off the site, and apologise to Mr or Ms Finke for ‘borrowing’ the image, duly credited but in tiny writing…

ABACO PARROTS: NEST CAMERAS AND PREDATOR CONTROL


♦ NEW ABACO PARROT LOGO 

[Note: this post replaces the preliminary, typo-ridden and imageless draft that subscribers may have received, for which I stupidly pressed the 'publish' button rather than 'save draft'... Not the 1st time, either... Sorry] 

Scientist Caroline Stahala has spent 10 years researching the Abaco population of the Bahama parrot. Her aim is to develop understanding of their behaviour so that conservation and management strategies for this rare sub-species can be optimised. Particular protection problems arise because Abaco parrots, uniquely, nest underground. Their main vulnerability is to predation by feral cats, racoons and rodents which kill adults, chicks and fledglings in the nest

Predator monitoring and control programs have been in place for several years, removing surprising numbers of feral cats prior to and during the breeding season. Prevention techniques have been refined as predation data has accumulated. In 2011 for the first time motion-sensitive cameras were used, positioned near the openings of vulnerable active nests (shallow or with large openings), monitored 24/7 with infra-red night-time flash. Constant technical adjustments were needed to determine optimum filming distance and memory card size, and to avoid ‘false triggers’ (eg wind)

A great deal of vital data was collected, particularly at night when predation can’t otherwise be effectively monitored. Feral cats were the most frequent visitors, followed by rodents. No racoons were recorded, so these may be less of a threat than expected. One northern mockingbird (above) was caught on film up to no good. It it seems that the camera flash itself may act as a deterrent, something that bears further study. There is also new evidence that some predators approach a nest and ‘case the joint’ for later use. All this data will make it possible to target predator control preventatively, rather than in the sad aftermath of predation – a great step forward. 

Overall, during the 2011 breeding season none of 55 nests monitored was lost due to predation. In previous years, the attrition rates have been around 25%. The use of cameras avoids any disturbance of the parrots and chicks and provides round-the-clock monitoring. If the cameras / flash are in themselves deterrents, that is a simple method of predation control. The new banding project means that it is now possible to be certain whether same parrot (or pair) is using the same nest cavity each year – and of course individuals can more readily be identified

Finally, Caroline confirms that the parrots weathered Hurricane Irene well.  She was still monitoring the breeding territory then, and when she returned to check active nests after the storm, she found the chicks and fledglings safe in their nest cavities 

Abaco Parrot chick safe and sound - the first post-Irene image

BIRD NEWS UPDATE FROM DELPHI CLUB ABACO


Peter Mantle reports that a recent ferocious 4-day storm caused further havoc in the gardens, which had just about recovered from the depredations of Hurricane Irene. Even fishing was impossible. Yes, it really was that bad. However, the birds seem remarkably resilient to everything the weather gods throw at them. Parrots are plentiful around the club and are seen and / or heard almost daily. Peter also says  “We had a spectacular exhibition yesterday of a peregrine repeatedly dive-bombing (for fun, we think) several turkey vultures in high wind, with another peregrine cruising nearby.”

Caroline Stahala has given me a West Indian Woodpecker update. These charming if noisy birds have been a bit of a leitmotif of this blog. We met their early reluctance to use the perfectly nice nesting box provided for them; their eventual moving in; their use of the club vehicles’ wing-mirrors for vanity purposes; their attempts to raise 2 broods of chicks with varied success (that’s a deliberate euphemism); and stoutly resisting the force of Irene. The male woodpecker is still using the nesting box for roosting. The breeding season is long over, but perhaps next season his home in the eaves of the verandah will be tempting for a mate… And finally, the hummingbirds are plentiful – so as Caroline says, “now is a good time to be birdwatching…” 

Photo credit: Peter Wesley Brown

ABACO PARROTS POST-IRENE: CAROLINE STAHALA’S FIRST REPORT


ABACO PARROTS EXCELLENT POST-IRENE NEWS

The past week has been rightly dominated by concerns for family and friends, for homes and property, for the swift restoration of communications, and for many other human interests. The consequences of Irene for Abaco’s wildlife has taken its appropriate place lower down in the priorities, but there are obvious concerns for the loss of habitat through destruction and defoliation, consequent problems with food supply and so on. 

The Abaco parrots are a potent symbol of recovery from near-disaster, with the conservation programme annually leading to breeding success in the wild and numbers on the increase. Recently – it seems a while ago now – I posted about the progress of this year’s chicks and fledglings: see ABACO PARROT CHICKS   Caroline Stahala, who heads the conservation project, has now sent the first report on how the chicks have fared through the hurricane:

“…I have been out checking on the unfledged chicks and I am finding that most of the nests that should have been active still are.  This means chicks are still in the nest.  I am attaching a photo of one of the chicks that I found post hurricane.  It seems that the parrots did well through the hurricane now I hope they are able to find enough food until spring…”  

In my earlier post today – see ABACO 31 AUG POST-IRENE – I mention at the end that I feel my unexpected transformation into a storm commentator and information provider is coming to its natural end. I can’t think of a more appropriate image for taking my leave from hurricane duties than this little parrot fledgling. It’s an emblem of Abaco, and a symbol for the future after the storm. Thanks for reading the blog, following it and for all contributions and encouragement over the past week.               rollingharbour 

Abaco Parrot chick safe and sound - the first post-Irene image

ABACO PARROT PROJECT: CHICK & FLEDGLING BANDING – AMAZING PHOTOS


CAROLINE STAHALA has provided some truly outstanding photos derived from her scientific research work during the summer into the breeding of Abaco Parrots in the National Park. By their very nature, these pictures of direct human contact with these lovely birds must be exceptionally rare, and I am really grateful to Caroline for allowing me to showcase them in this blog.

1. Adult Abaco parrots in the National Park pine forest.  One is wearing a band on its leg from last year’s ringing programme (CLICK images to enlarge)

2. A bag of 3 parrot chicks, at different stages of maturity, in the process of banding. You can see the band on the leg of the little bald unfeathered one

3. Two timed shots of adult Abaco parrots, one of which is going down the inside of their burrow into the nest while the other keeps a lookout

4. Caroline is assisted with writing up her data records by one of her protégés

5. A unique photograph (I haven’t been able to locate another similar image) of a newly-banded Abaco parrot fledgling contentedly perched on a human hand

6. This photograph of Sandy Walker (Delphi Club) is captioned ‘Sandy and Chick’, and I really don’t think I can improve on that!Thanks Caroline for these amazing images – it’s a privilege to be able to post them

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SUBSCRIBING OR DONATING TO SUPPORT THE CONSERVATION PROJECT TO SAVE THE ABACO POPULATION OF THE BAHAMA PARROT, THE DIRECT LINK TO THE SUBSCRIPTION / DONATION PAGE IS   HTTP://WWW.PARROTSINTERNATIONAL.ORG/MAIN-JOIN.HTML