Dominica’s Search for a Long-Lost Bird

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Above: a Diablotin

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The highest mountain in Dominica is called Morne Diablotins.

It gets its name from the Diablotin, the “black-capped petrel.” But a Diablotin bird hasn’t nested in Dominica in more than 150 years — or so it’s thought.

A new project in Dominica is searching for the rare and endangered bird on the island, looking to determine whether the Diablotin is still nesting in Dominica.

The bird is a nocturnal sea bird, meaning much of its time is spent at sea, with nights spent in three-foot-deep nests on mountain peaks.

“They require a pristine habitat which is why they’re not found on most in the Caribbean; they require very steep and undisturbed forest habitat,” says Adam Brown, Senior Biologist with the Environmental Protection in the Caribbean organization. “Dominica has that so the places where we’re looking and they places where they were historically are the highest areas.”

The search includes the use of radar to find the birds’ flight paths and nesting areas.

Similar efforts have yielded results on the island of Hispaniola, where the bird has been found.

“There is this historical aspect of it. This is a bird which is known to have nested on Dominica more than 150 years ago,” said Stephen Durand, assistant forestry officer. “I think there is a cultural aspect to this as well so I think this research programme is very important for us.”

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