More brown booby birds killed on Cayman Brac

| 17/01/2023 | 49 Comments

(CNS): The bodies of two brown booby adults and one chick were found on Cayman Brac last weekend and were likely killed by cats, according to the Department of Environment. The news comes on the heels of a report last week outlining the grim circumstances of the brown booby colony on the island. During the 2022 nesting season, 70% of the eggs laid were lost. Of the 42 eggs identified, only 13 fledged successfully.

On Sunday, 15 January, the DoE Terrestrial Resources Unit responded to a call from a volunteer who found a dead booby bird on the South Side of Cayman Brac during her weekly survey. The recently dead male was found at its nest alongside the dead chick, which appeared to be only one or two weeks old. His mate, who was still alive, was perched nearby.

A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death of the two birds, but the DoE said that puncture wounds and traces of blood at the site were apparent.

This report followed a similar finding at the Lighthouse Trail the day before, Saturday 14 January, by a DoE staff member, who found the remains of a brown booby, most of which had been consumed, at one of the nesting sites. The bird appeared to have been eaten several weeks ago.

This high number of mortalities in such a short time is alarming in light of the already diminished local breeding population, the DoE stated, adding that all efforts would be made to ramp up monitoring and control at these sites.

The DoE said that on the South Side of Cayman Brac, the booby birds nest on the beach with very little protection from predators and disturbance. “This area is known to have a high density of feral cats and there have been observations of cats disturbing booby nests and attacking adult birds in prior nesting seasons.”

Members of the public are asked to report dead or injured seabirds to the TRU at 925-7625 and to refrain from touching or moving any carcasses.


Share your vote!


How do you feel after reading this?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , ,

Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (49)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. GetReal says:

    The cats and dogs go after our young free range hens that are being raised to lay eggs especially now that imported eggs are so expensive! -get rid of stray animals one way or another and do it now.

    2
    6
  2. Anonymous says:

    Damn those cats for destroying the booby and rock iguana habitat for developments!

    3
    4
  3. Anonymous says:

    Cue the crazy crying cat woman.

    8
    12
  4. Anonymous says:

    Rock climbing is an outdoor sport that generally has a low impact on our environment, but as with all outdoor activities, there are ecological considerations to keep in mind. Bird nests are the chief concern in the Brac.

    Cayman Brac is an important seabird nesting site in the Western Caribbean. The towering bluff is a significant resource for seabirds and for thousands of years it has provided shelter from predators and the raging sea. Seabirds nest high along the bluff to avoid disturbance, so it is important that we respect these majestic creatures and let them raise their families in peace.

    17
    2
  5. Anonymous says:

    As of January 2023, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, United States, and Venezuela have detected outbreaks of influenza A (H5N1) virus in domestic, poultry and/or wild birds

    9
    6
    • Anonymous says:

      The infection has been noted in migratory birds. We on a migration route for many bird species. The route has stop off points in Florida and Cuba, making it more probable that an infected bird might stop here for a rest. In April 2022, mindlessly greedy representatives of the U.S. poultry industry descended on Havana to implore the Cuban government to loosen bans on U.S. chicken after outbreaks of bird flu in major producing states in the USA. Typical of the USA, pressure other countries to allow in their infections and toxins.

      Studies have given evidence to show that timing of H5N1 outbreaks and viral migration are closely associated with established bird migration routes. With their population already at critical levels due to massive encroachment by development on their nesting areas, H5N1 coming to the islands via migratory birds could spell the end of Booby birds on Cayman Brac.

  6. Fed up says:

    What are you waiting for? set up 50 cat traps and eliminate them!Cat breed faster than the birds!

    17
    16
    • Andrea says:

      Require cat owners to neuter their cats as well as dogs and there’ll be no strays to kill the Boobys!

      14
      4
  7. Anonymous says:

    Something no one is mentioning is how the cats got there. They didn’t go there on their own. People want to get rid of any chickens or cats in their neighborhood and just takes them to the dump or the bluff. My neighbor is one of those. They need to put up some cameras and catch these people so it will stop. Or is DOA going to continue to do this indefinitely?

    15
  8. Anonymous says:

    I wrote a comment relating to the article headlined: “Future ‘grim’ for brown booby, DoE warns” and I suggested that removal of cats and rats could result in unintended consequences that Gina and the other brainiacs in the DOE might not have considered. Shortly after I made that comment, I came across an article that documents just such an unintended consequence!
    http://initiative-pim.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Ortega-2021-How-removal-of-cats-and-rats-from-an-island-allowe.pdf
    We also have snakes that prey on bird chick and eggs whose population might also runaway if not held in check by predators such as cats and rats.

    And another thing…(!)
    The DOE is trying to nurture the population of Rock Iguanas on Cayman Brac. However, as the iguana population grows so does the threat to Booby birds. An inconvenient truth that the DOE should know but does not say much about: Adult iguanas are herbivorous animals that eat foliage, flowers, and fruits. However, insects, lizards, and other small animals, as well as nestling birds and eggs, are also common foods for them. “Nestling birds and eggs”!. Did you catch that people? Iguanas would just love a juicy little booby bird chick or egg as a nice light snack.
    Could sumaddy please point this out to Gina and the DOE?

    16
    13
    • Anonymous says:

      So why the sudden decrease in the Booby population? Is it not coincidental that it has happened at the same time as the increase in the population of the feral cats?
      There will always be predators in nature, but they are usually in balance, as they must have been before the feral cats became an issue. So even if you cull the feral cats (I am a huge cat lover but understand their destructive nature in the wild), the balance should hopefully return.

      14
      10
      • Anonymous says:

        @9:41:
        You wrote from a position of ignorance. The decline in the booby population was most certainly not “sudden” at all.
        If–before you went off uninformed and made your comment–you had read the history of the decline and spoken with older Brackers, you could have been informed of the full picture. The vastly most precipitous decline in the Booby population took place in an era when the feral cat population was comparatively quite low. From the many thousands in the early to mid 1900’s, to under 200 hundred by the early 1980’s.

        Track Brac development trends by numbers and areas of shore-ward and Bluff edge Booby habitat lost to development and laying totally bare shore-ward and Bluff edge parcels of land; and also track the influx of people into Booby habitat areas you will see the truth emerge.

        In my opinion, the cat culling is but a show to distract from the real cause. It makes the DOE look like they are stepping up and doing something meaningful when, if they do not address the far larger and most urgent threat, the booby population will be well under sustainable levels in just a few years.

        I am not saying that feral cats do not prey on Booby chicks. But that is not the most urgent threat at all.

        The cat culling is like a well known Bracker is fond of saying about poppy-show actions: “It is like wetting your pants. Everybody can see what you have done, but in the end all you are left with is a warm feeling, and that will soon grow cold.”

        8
        1
    • Anonymous says:

      There are other studies showing solid increase in endangered species after removal of the invasive, without much resurgence in natural predators.

      One habitat does not equal another.

      12
      1
      • Anonymous says:

        @11:34:
        If “One habitat does not equal another”, then why cite what happened in other places rather than urge the DOE to do a proper evaluation on the cause contributing to the vast and precipitous decline in the booby population relating to Cayman Brac? Just asking for a friend.

        1
        1
      • Anonymous says:

        If we were to actully think for a change, consider the case of shark kills globally. Predators are good.

        2
        1
  9. Anonymous says:

    As a pet lover (both cats and dogs) it’s unfortunate that feral cats are potentially causing threats to others protected species, which is horrible.

    Admittedly, the idea of cat culling at first glance seems inhumane to me, but I’m don’t live in the Brac, so cannot speak to it with direct knowledge.

    Hopefully, a workable solution can be achieved. I can see that this is something that may require a balance to be struck among various relevant factors.

    8
    2
    • Anonymous says:

      Is the answer to everything on the island to cull? It really is disgusting for animal lovers to hear there are no other answers than culling. Inhumane.

      13
      4
  10. Anonymous says:

    The spread of a highly infectious strain of avian influenza, known as H5N1-HPAI-clade 2.3.4.4b, is killing wild birds

    16
    6
  11. Anonymous says:

    People should avoid unprotected contact with wild birds that look sick or have died. Bird flu infections in people happen most often after close, prolonged, and unprotected (no gloves or other protective wear) contact with infected birds or surfaces contaminated with bird flu viruses

    15
    2
  12. Anonymous says:

    Bird Flu Disease?

    12
    2
    • Anonymous says:

      No. Please stop spreading fear of something that isn’t here. Everything is not bird flu. They just killed off somebody’s flock of chickens for no reason.

      4
      4
  13. Anonymous says:

    Another avoidable situation, years in the making, where political shortsightedness, and neglect has allowed a district nuisance to fester into a territorial economic threat. We need qualified leadership for the problems Cayman is facing and will face. We need to amend the Elections Law to raise the bar.

    21
    2
  14. Fiona says:

    Ruddy cats.
    Shoot the lot and fast.

    20
    27
  15. Anonymous says:

    How are cats taking down an adult Booby? That is a large bird. If they were able to, why wouldn’t they be killing chickens too?! What about all the stray dogs that regularly kill small animals, could they not be to blame also?

    21
    5
    • Anonymous says:

      Boobys aren’t that big. And they are incredibly lite (hollow bones enable them to fly). A cat is equipped with claws and fangs and is heavier. Even if a cat is the same size as the booby it has the advantage on the ground. Particularly if the Bobbys are nesting on the ground. 🙁

      20
      7
      • Anonymous says:

        Ever seen a cat take down an adult chicken? No, me either, and you won’t. Almost all cats try just once.

        I remember after Hurricane Paloma how severely the Booby populated was impacted. Didn’t see many of them nesting around the sheer bluff of the Lighthouse after that. I haven’t seen them return much. There are a few that nest at the end of the island at the base of the bluff past Long Beach. There used to be a small population of Boobies at the west end of the south side road at the turnaround. Don’t know what became of them.

        Easy to blame the cats. Rare to see a feral cat, especially near the lighthouse.

        11
        4
        • Anonymous says:

          My thoughts too, 3:04!
          In spite of the number of people who enjoy the Brac Bluff light house park as a picnic area and the government having an open litter container in which people dump the remains of their meal, I have yet to see a feral cat in that area. Plus, in spite of the litter bin being there, I have seen the remains of meals in Dart carry out containers just thrown on the ground. Probably by people who ate in their cars and were too lazy to walk out and properly discard their litter and threw it out the window. Those tidbits should be a red carpet invitation for feral cats to hang out there in numbers. But my observation is the same, no cats.

          This is more evidence that the cat culling is all just a show to make people believe that the government and DOE are riding in on their white horses and mightily battling the problem of the declining booby population.

          Some battle! More like tilting at windmills. For decades the government and DOE have neglected to battle the real underlying cause. Now, at 11:59:50, they sacrifice the cats to make themselves look like champions for the cause. Totally pathetic!

          7
          1
  16. Anonymous says:

    This is why trap neuter release (TNR) doesn’t work. Feral cats don’t care if they are spayed or neutered. Feral cats don’t care if they are being fed by a human. They are still gonna kill our threatened, native wildlife. Cats and islands just don’t mix. They can and do wipe out entire species.

    26
    18
    • Anonymous says:

      Do you know what creates a feral animal? I do. It’s unwanted litters by owned intact pets. A better law would be to make all owned animals have to be spayed and neutered. Then you’ll stop having abandoned animals become feral.

      3
      1
  17. Anonymous says:

    It’s so sad to see everyone blaming the cats. They are only following their nature. The ones truly to blame are the generations of irresponsible pet owners (dogs and cats) who allow their pets to breed because they are too damned lazy to get them neutered (for free).
    My neighbor has a female dog tied to a tree in his yard (and she barks all the time of course). Last week there were 6 loose dogs around in the yard bothering her and she couldn’t escape. I suppose she had come into heat and was attracting dogs from all over the neighborhood (who again weren’t neutered and weren’t contained at home).
    I told my neighbor and offered to take the dog in for neutering myself, warning him there were unwanted puppies on the way. But no, he doesn’t care if she has puppies apparently. Says he will sell them and make money. So God knows how many dogs will be roaming the neighborhood here in 6 months.
    So its the people and their stinking attitudes and laziness that are ultimately to blame for this.
    Make owning an un-neutered pet a finable offence, and prosecute for it. Its the only way to sort all this mess out.

    37
    11
  18. Anonymous says:

    Round up all the loose cats. Euthanize those not claimed/chipped/spayed within 48 hrs. It’s cruel to leave cats outside in the tropics. CIG has to deal with this urgently on all three islands. Where/who is the DoA Animal Control Officer?

    13
    20
  19. Anonymous says:

    Its the god damn cats

    36
    28
  20. Anonymous says:

    Cats are killing for sport not for food. Kill all of the damn cats now!!

    50
    37
  21. Anonymous says:

    The cats need to be eliminated.

    56
    34
    • Anonymous says:

      When since cats and dogs were more important on these islands. Those people who have them sleeping in their beds and eating out of their plates are not the indigenous Caymanian. Rid the places of strays and keep your pests at home.

      8
      24
      • Anonymous says:

        However, others who keep their dogs outside allow them to bark constantly, ruining the quality of life for all of their neighbours.
        I’d much rather live next to the person who keeps their pets inside, or train not to bark non-stop!

        8
        2
      • Anonymous says:

        There is no such thing as indigenous caymanian unless your species survived without fresh drinking water

    • Anonymous says:

      So do the wild fowl.

      4
      1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.