Número 18 | December 2008

Birds allien to our islands: storm-petrels and shearwaters

Procellariiformes are exclusively marine birds with pelagic habits during great part of the year. This group includes ocean birds, ranging from small to large storm-petrels to albatrosses. They only approach land, either islands or cliffs, to breed, as they are better adapted to life at sea and to the absence of predators in their breeding sites.
The islands of Las Palomas and Hormigas, in Cartagena, hold the greatest number of breeding pairs of these birds in the Region of Murcia, particularly Cory's shearwaters and storm-petrels . Thus, both islands were declared a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA in Spanish).
The General Directorate of Natural Heritage and Biodiversity of the Ministry of Agriculture and Water is developing, since April 2008, the project "Study and improvement of procelariformes in Murcia”, by which the biological monitoring and banding of both species, as well as the improvement of their breeding site and public spreading are carried out. Apart from the ringing of adult birds and chicks found in the nest, the nests found have also been numbered and their location on the ground has been marked by GPS.
Thanks to the study, it has been possible to estimate the population of storm-petrels and shearwaters from banding data, to measure the dimensions of the huras where shearwaters nest in order to collect data on the breeding preferences of these birds, to remove unsuccessful eggs laid by petrels in order to improve the calculation of reproductive parameters for the following year and to track nests and establish reproductive parameters.
The conservation of Las Palomas and Hormigas, as well as Isla Grosa, where evidence for the reproduction of petrels was found, will guarantee the long term preservation of the nesting colonies of these birds, and thanks to their fidelity to their breeding sites, it will ensure that continuity.
Pardela cenicienta (Calonectris diomedea)
Paiño europeo (Hydrobates pelagicus)
Nidos artificiales para la reproducción de paíños en Isla Grosa
Islas Hormigas es un lugar estratégico para el desarrollo de estas aves
Los anillamientos y los censos permiten el seguimiento y protección de estas aves