Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

In early December, a cacophony of haunting screams and cries accompanies the adults as they return to the breeding colonies to begin nesting (3). Nests are made on a bed of plant debris within earth burrows or natural rock crevices (3) (5). What happens next is poorly studied because of the relative inaccessibility of most breeding colonies. However, in common with other petrels, a single egg will undergo a lengthy incubation period before hatching, with the eventual fledging of young between late May and early June (3) (8). During this time the nesting adult birds travel long distances back and forth from the colonies to the foraging sites (2). The black-capped petrel forages predominantly in multispecies flocks throughout the night but with peak activity at dawn and dusk (2) (3) (7). While some time is spent foraging on the ocean surface, the preferred technique is to snatch items with their bills whilst in flight (3) (7). Fish, squid and invertebrates all form part of the petrel's diet, with fauna associated with Sargassum seaweed reefs being particularly popular. In addition, these birds are not averse to occasionally scavenge behind fishing vessels (2) (3) (7).
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Description

Diablotin (little devil) was the name given to the black-capped petrel by the Caribbean islanders whose nights were commonly punctuated by the eerie calls of this now rare bird (3) (4). It is a medium-sized, long-winged petrel, predominately black on top and white underneath. A white collar around the nape separates the black plumage of the back from that of the head, giving the impression of a black cap above the eyes. White uppertail coverts are equally conspicuous against the black of the back, wings and tail. Underneath, this petrel is almost entirely white, except for a black band bordering the edges of the wings (2) (3). It has a black, hooked bill and mostly pink legs and feet (2).
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Non-breeding

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Global Range: (250-20,000 square km (about 100-8000 square miles)) BREEDING: Hispaniola, eastern Cuba, Jamaica (formerly; but see Taxonomic Comments), Guadeloupe (extirpated), Dominica (probable), and possibly Martinique (Collar et al. 1992; van Halewyn and Norton 1984). Confirmed colonies are restricted to Hispaniola (Massif de la Selle and Massif de la Hotte, Haiti; and Loma de Toro, Dominican Republic). Ranges at sea in Caribbean region and western Atlantic Ocean from about the Tropic of Cancer to eastern Brazil, north to waters off the southeastern U.S. where far from rare (Collar et al. 1992).

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Range Description

Pterodroma hasitata now breeds in Haiti and the Sierra de Baoruco region of the Dominican Republic. There are an estimated 1,000 breeding pairs (D. S. Lee in litt. 1998, Lee 2000), mostly in the Massifs de la Selle and de la Hotte, southern Haiti (Raffaele et al. 1998), but records at-sea suggest that the population is over 5,000 individuals (Brooke 2004). The area of suitable habitat in the Pic Macaya region of Massif de la Hotte is estimated to be 5 km2, with a similar area in La Visite, Massif de la Selle (the majority of colonies are found within a 10 km stretch spanning a 500 m elevational range on the north side of the ridge; two more colonies are located further to the east, span 5 km, again within a 500 m elevation range) (J. Gerwin in litt. 2006). Small numbers have been recently recorded on Dominica and in adjacent offshore waters, suggesting that it may still nest (Raffaele et al. 1998). In May 2007, a breeding female was found in the village of Trafalgar in the Padu region of Dominica (A. James in litt., 2010). It now seems likely that small numbers breed in Cubabased on observation in the Sierra Maestra region (a congregation of 40+ individuals in the vicinity of shoreline, vocalisations heard overhead by landbased observers, and evidence of birds moving inland) (D. Demarest in litt. 2006). It is believed extinct on Guadeloupe (to France) (where common in the 19th century) (Raffaele et al. 1998). Black-capped petrel may have bred on Martinique (to France) (Raffaele et al. 1998). Even during the breeding season it is highly pelagic, with breeding condition birds recorded off the North Carolina coast, USA (D. S. Lee in litt. 1998, Lee 2000). Birds disperse over the Caribbean and Atlantic from the north-east USA to north-east Brazil, with four records in European waters (Howell 2002), but the at-sea range has contracted in the north and west.

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Range

The only known extant black-capped petrel breeding colonies are located in the highlands of Hispaniola, predominantly in southern Haiti but also in low numbers across the border in the Dominican Republic (2) (3). Historically, breeding colonies were also recorded on several other Caribbean islands, including Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica and Cuba (2) (3) (5) (6). It is almost certainly extinct on Martinque and Guadeloupe but recent evidence suggests a high probability of a small number of breeding birds being present on Cuba and possibly also on Dominica (2). Its foraging range extends throughout the Caribbean and the Atlantic, but is observed most frequently on the western edge of the Gulf Stream from northeast South America to northeast USA (2) (3).
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Physical Description

Size

Length: 41 cm

Weight: 278 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Pelagic. Warm oceanic waters, generally off the continental shelf (see Collar et al. 1992 for further details). Probably feeds in areas of turbulence and upwellings caused by sea ridges and the continental shelf break (Collar et al. 1992). Eggs are laid in burrows on mountain summits (AOU 1983), in soils or crevices of steep forested mountain cliffs (mostly at 1500-2000 m elevation in Haiti).

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breeding on Ghispaniola and Jamaica
  • UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It nests (starting in December) colonially in cliff burrows, often within montane forest at 1,500-2,000 m, but up to 2,300 m in the Dominican Republic (Williams et al. 1996). Nesting birds commute large distances from breeding to foraging sites (Lee 2000). It is primarily nocturnal and crepuscular, feeding on fish, invertebrate swarms, fauna associated with Sargassum seaweed reefs (Lee 2000), and squid (Ottenwalder 1992a). It is attracted to localised upwellings, where the mixing of surface and deep oceanic waters produces nutrient-rich areas (Lee 2000).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 281 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 277 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
  Temperature range (°C): 18.183 - 25.900
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.268 - 1.300
  Salinity (PPS): 33.793 - 36.411
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.687 - 5.527
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.066 - 0.300
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.921 - 2.493

Graphical representation

Temperature range (°C): 18.183 - 25.900

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.268 - 1.300

Salinity (PPS): 33.793 - 36.411

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.687 - 5.527

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.066 - 0.300

Silicate (umol/l): 0.921 - 2.493
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Nests are typically found along forested mountain slopes and cliffs at elevations from 1,500 metres up to 2,300 metres. During the non-breeding season, from approximately May to November, the black-capped petrel lives and forages permanently at sea with the largest numbers concentrated around areas of nutrient rich upwelling (2) (3) (7).
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Migrates between breeding and nonbreeding habitats.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Little is known about the food of this species (Collar et al. 1992). Eats largely squids taken in bill from surface of water (Terres 1980). Feeds on fishes, shrimps (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20

Comments: Precise breeding distribution poorly known; at most, 14 extant colonies are known; more may exist in Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and on Dominica.

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Global Abundance

1000 - 2500 individuals

Comments: Very few colonies known, and numbers of breeding birds in these colonies poorly known, but generally estimated to be 50 or more pairs per colony (Collar et al. 1992). However, recent observations at sea off the southeastern U. S. coast have indicated a larger population than would be predicted by known or probable breeding sites, with as many as 65 birds seen in one day (Collar et al. 1992).

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General Ecology

Usually solitary at sea (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Comments: Probably nocturnal when nesting.

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Reproduction

Breeding season extends from early November to mid-May (peak late December-February); eggs laid in January-February; clutch size is 1 (Collar et al. 1992).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pterodroma hasitata

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 3 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CCTATACCTAATTTTTGGCGCATGAGCCGGTATAGTCGGAACCGCCCTTAGCCTACTCATTCGCGCAGAACTAGGCCAACCAGGAACCCTCCTAGGAGATGACCAAATCTACAATGTAATCGTCACCGCCCATGCTTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTCATAGTGATACCCGTCATAATTGGAGGATTTGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCCCTTATAATCGGCGCCCCCGACATAGCATTCCCACGTATAAACAACATAAGCTTTTGACTACTACCCCCGTCCTTTCTCCTATTACTAGCTTCATCCACCGTAGAGGCAGGGGCAGGTACAGGATGAACTGTATACCCTCCTCTAGCAGGCAATCTAGCCCATGCTGGAGCTTCAGTTGACCTAGCTATCTTCTCTCTTCACCTAGCAGGGGTGTCCTCCATTCTAGGAGCAATTAACTTCATCACAACAGCTATCAACATAAAACCCCCAGCCCTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCTCTATTTGTGTGATCAGTACTCATCACCGCCGTCCTACTTTTACTCTCACTCCCAGTTCTTGCCGCAGGTATCACCATACTACTGACAGATCGGAACCTAAACACCACATTCTTTGACCCCGCTGGTGGAGGTGACCCAGTTCTATACCAACACCTCTTCTGATTCTTTGGCCACNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pterodroma hasitata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNRN - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled

Reasons: Small breeding range in the West Indies; nesting apparently is now restricted to Hispaniola and possibly Cuba, Dominica and Martinique; declines and extirpations are attributed to predation by introduced mammals and human exploitation for food. Dogs, cats, and mongooses continue to increase around the breeding colonies in Haiti, where deforestation further threatens colonies.

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Demarest, D., Feldmann, P., Fernandez, E., Gerwin, J., Lee, D., Levesque, A. & Villard, P.

Justification
This species is classified as Endangered because it has a very small, fragmented and declining breeding range and population. It has already been extirpated from some sites, and declines are likely to continue as a result of habitat loss and degradation, hunting and invasive predators.

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Status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).
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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 70 to >90%

Comments: Formerly abundant; declined precipitously in the 19th century. Several breeding colonies have been extirpated, and numbers have probably declined at remaining colonies in the last 50 years (Collar et al. 1992).

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Population

Population
Brooke (2004)


Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Degree of Threat: High

Comments: Declines and extirpations are attributed to predation by introduced mongooses, opossums (Dominica), rats, and domestic animals; and to human exploitation for food (Collar et al. 1992). Mongooses, dogs, and cats are continuing to become more common around the known colonies in Haiti. In recent decades, the breeding sites in Haiti have been further threatened by the destruction of the surrounding montane forests (Collar et al. 1992). The remnant colony on Guadeloupe may have been dealt its final blow by a major earthquake in 1847 (Collar et al. 1992).

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Major Threats
Habitat destruction and hunting for food have caused this species's decline, and remain key threats in Haiti. Birds are also predated by introduced mammals. Urbanisation and concomitant increases in artificial lights may dazzle or disorientate birds into colliding with trees, wires and buildings (Ottenwalder 1992a). A telecommunications mast with stay wires erected in 1995 on Loma de Toro in Sierra de Bahoruco (the only known nesting locality in the Dominican Republic) poses a collision hazard (Keith et al. 2003). The proposed development of gas/oil fields off the coast of South Carolina, USA, could devastate this important feeding area (Lee 2000).

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Up until the latter half of the 19th century, the black-capped petrel was relatively common within its breeding range (3) (5). Around this time, a burgeoning human population in the Caribbean islands and consequential habitat loss, harvesting for food and predation by introduced mammals, saw petrel numbers crash almost to the point of extinction. Indeed, for several decades prior to the early 1960s, the species appeared to have vanished completely. Fortunately, in 1961, an estimated 2,000 breeding pairs were discovered at the existing colonies on Haiti (5) (9). It soon became evident, however, that these colonies were under the same pressures that extirpated the breeding colonies on other islands. By the turn of this century, the estimated number of breeding pairs had declined to 1,000, with a total population size of approximately 5,000 birds (3). Despite increased awareness and protection, the population is likely to remain in decline as a result of continued deforestation and unabated hunting and predation. Sadly, this trend may be further exacerbated by proposals to develop oil and gas fields within petrel foraging grounds off the coast of the USA (2).
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Management

Global Protection: Several (4-12) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: At least nine of the 11 colonies found by Wingate (1964a) on Haiti were within the current boundaries of the La Visite National Park, and the only known colony in the Massif de la Hotte is within the Pic Macaya National Park. In Dominica, the only presumed nesting site is protected within the Sierra de Baoruco National Park. In Cuba, the Sierra Maestra National Park holds the presumed nesting area on the island. However, foraging areas of this species are not protected.

Needs: See Collar et al. (1992) for information on conservation needs in different areas.

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
It breeds within national parks in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. On Guadeloupe, five surveys for the species have been conducted since the late 1980s (P. Feldmann and P. Villard in litt 1998). Efforts have been made to define the at-sea distribution off the USA (Lee 2000).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to accurately determine the status and distribution of the species and its habitat (Ottenwalder 1992a, Lee 2000). Halt human exploitation. Develop measures to remove introduced predators. Effectively protect the species and its nesting grounds. List the species in the USA under the Federal Endangered Species Act (Lee 2000).

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Conservation

Most of the known black-capped petrel breeding colonies occur within La Visite National Park and Pic Macaya National Park in Haiti and Sierra de Baoruco National Park in the Dominican Republic (3). However, despite being ostensibly protected, the implementation of a sustainable conservation plan in Haiti's two national parks is seriously undermined by political instability and poverty. Given that almost the world's entire black-capped petrel breeding colonies occur within these two parks, ensuring their protection presents the biggest challenge to conservation efforts. Current proposals for Haiti's National Parks include establishing core ecological reserves that are strictly off-limits to humans, maintenance of defined park boundaries and long-term monitoring and research of avian populations (10) (11). On other islands, such as Cuba and Dominica, with recent evidence of visiting black-capped petrels, surveys for new breeding colonies are also on-going (2). With Haiti's breeding colonies still under threat, the discovery of alternative nesting sites may in the long-term be crucial to the species' survival.
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Wikipedia

Black-capped petrel

The black-capped petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) is a small seabird in the gadfly petrel genus, Pterodroma. It is also known as the diablotín. The probably-extinct Jamaica petrel (P. caribbaea) was a related dark form, often considered a subspecies of this bird.

This long-winged petrel has a grey-brown back and wings, with a white nape and rump. Underparts are mainly white apart from a black cap (that in some individuals extends to cover the eye) and some dark underwing makings. It picks food items such as squid from the ocean surface.

The black-capped petrel is nocturnal at the breeding sites possibly to avoid predation by gulls, hawks or crows. Like most petrels, its walking ability is limited to a short shuffle to the burrow. Although this seabird once breed on cliffs in the mountains of the Greater Antilles, only three confirmed breeding sites remain, all in the high mountains of Hispaniola (at Lomo de Toro in the Dominican Republic, and in Parc La Visite and Parc Macaya on Haitian side of the island). The local name Diablotín means "little devil", called so because of its night-time habits and the odd-sounding mating calls, which may have suggested to locals the presence of evil spirits in the dark. A mountain peak where it formerly bred in Haiti (and another in Dominica, Lesser Antilles) is still named Morne Diablotin.

The species, once widespread in the West Indies, is now far less common. It is an uncommon but regular visitor to the south-eastern United States, and an extremely rare wanderer to western Europe. Causes for its demise include habitat loss, introduced predators, and direct human harvesting.

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Dod, Annabelle Stockton (1978). Aves de la República Dominicana. Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
  • Dod, A. S. (1992). Endangered and Endemic Birds of the Dominican Republic. Cypress House ISBN 1-879384-12-4
  • Latta, Steven; et al. (2006). Aves de la República Dominicana y Haití. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-12876-6
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Regarded as conspecific with P. cahow, P. phaeopygia, P. baraui, and P. externa by some authors (AOU 1998). Possibly extinct form that bred on Jamaica may be distinct species, P. caribbaea (AOU 1998).

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