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Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 12253565

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 12253565) - Black-capped Petrel - Awarded $5,000 on June 21, 2012

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is the only U.S.-based 501(c)(3) organization that works solely to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. Working together, ABC and its more than 300 partners buy land, restore degraded habitats, conduct applied research, remove threats, and educate and engage the public on conservation issues. ABC advances bird conservation through direct action and by finding and engaging the people and groups needed to succeed, regardless of their political, economic, or social point of view. ABC seeks innovative, fair solutions to difficult issues. ABC aspires to lead bird conservation by analyzing issues using the best available science; facilitating networks and partnerships; sharing information; developing and implementing collaborative strategies; and establishing measurable outputs. ABC believes in operating efficiently and honestly, making the best use of funds received from government sources, foundations, and private individuals. ABC is rated a 4-Star, "Exceptional" charity (the highest rating) by the independent group Charity Navigator. ABC was founded in 1994, and has offices in The Plains, VA, and Washington, DC and has full-time staff in Florida, Georgia, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, New York, Oregon, and Texas. The proposed project is located off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Our first attempt to capture and affix radio transmitters to Black-capped Petrels was a day trip allowing us to test the floating mist net we had designed specifically for this trip. Floating mist nets have been used in more shallow bay water to trap sea ducks and murrelets and although we were able to test the net on fresh water prior to departing, we had lingering questions about our ability to deploy it at sea. Unfortunately, it was not possible to deploy the net as we needed completely calm conditions to safely and efficiently get the net into the water. We came away from this with a new understanding for the inefficiencies of mist nets used at sea and will keep this in mind as we develop new techniques for capturing petrels in the future.

Our second attempt took place overnight in flat, calm conditions with little to no winds and a bright, clear moon. There conditions were not ideal and given the choice, we would have picked a night around the new moon which would have been much darker. Throughout the night we attempted to attract Black-capped Petrels using flood lights, lots of chum, and Black-capped Petrel breeding calls, but to our dismay no Black-capped Petrel were spotted. Around 4 am, we began cruising slowly and looking for roosting groups of birds, hoping for a shot with the net gun. Again, we were only able to locate groups of Cory’s Shearwaters. This trip has reinforced our belief that a moonless night with a stronger wind, to carry the scent of our chum, would give us a better opportunity to catch Black-capped Petrels at sea in the future.

Unfortunately, we were unable to capture and attach satellite transmitters to any Black-capped Petrels during our expedition. However, we learned a great deal of information about the conditions necessary to capture Black-capped Petrels at-sea that can be used when making a second attempt in the future. There is still a need to locate and protect Black-capped Petrel nesting grounds. American Bird Conservancy continues to locate and monitor petrel nests on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic using a combination of radar surveys, acoustic and night-vision surveys, burrow-scopes, and infrared trail cameras. Our efforts have resulted in locating over 35 Black-capped Petrel nests which are now being monitored closely. The species remains an important focus for ABC and we are now considering a second attempt at at-sea capturing and tracking petrels as well as investigating the potential for using radar to search for nesting areas on other Caribbean islands, such as Dominica, using radar surveys and automated acoustic monitoring units.


Project 12253565 location - United States, North America