Longtail Conservation

Conservation Longtails 3The White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus is commonly called the Longtail. The Bermuda population of Longtails, estimated at 2,000 to 3,000 breeding birds, is the largest in the Atlantic, making it vitally important for the continued survival of the species. (For general information about Longtails click here.)

Threats to the breeding success of the Longtail in Bermuda include predation from dogs and cats; nest site competition from feral pigeons; destruction of nest sites by human housing development on the coastline; blockage of nest sites by rubble, trash and horticultural waste dumped over cliffs; overgrowth of nest sites by invasive plants. Recent hurricanes have caused major erosion of the south shore coastal cliffs, destroying many Longtail nest cavities.

Artificial nest boxes, nicknamed 'igloos' for their shape, have been shown to be readily acceptable replacements for natural cliff holes. These cement-coated styrofoam nest boxes can be purchased from the Audubon Society for $120 each. Igloos can be located on level cliff tops or cliff ledges beyond reach of sea flooding, or on man-made terraces and sea-walls. They are easy and inexpensive to install, requiring only a mattock to dig a shallow depression, filled with sand for the nest, and about a bucket of cement to secure the dome and to camouflage it with a few natural slabs of limestone on the sides and top. Longtails are happy nesting close to human habitation, as long as the location is safe from predators such as dogs and cats.

Printable instructions for installing a longtail igloo

Conservation Longtails 2

Conservation Longtails 1

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Photos courtesy of Andrew Dobson, Paul Watson, Chris Burville, Ras Mykkal, Jennifer Gray, Rosalind Wingate, Rick Slaughter and others.

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Telephone: (441) 238-8628

Email: info@audubon.bm

Website: www.audubon.bm

The Bermuda Audubon Society
P.O. Box HM 1328
Hamilton HM FX