Artificial burrows for beleaguered White-chinned Petrels to be installed on New Island in the South Atlantic

Whie chinned Petrel artificial burrow New Island
The New Island Restoration Project’s schematic for an artificial burrow for White-chinned Petrels

The New Island Restoration Project (NIRP) aims to remove introduced mammals from New Island in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas* (click here). The island supports a small population (one of the very few in the island group) of ACAP-listed White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis. As recently reported by ACAP Latest News this population of a globally Vulnerable species has been having a very poor to zero breeding success attributed to the deleterious effects of feral cats and introduced rodents and European Rabbits, coupled with an eroding habitat.

The NIRP now intends to install artificial burrows with the intention of improving breeding success and via its Facebook page has made a request for local help in securing spare offcuts of pipe, roughly 250-500 mm in diameter and up to a metre long, to use as entrance tunnels to the artificial burrows as illustrated above. In its appeal the project states “The White-chinned Petrels on New Island are facing tough times. Not only are they threatened by invasive mammals, but their burrows are drying up and eroding away. [We will] create artificial nest burrows to help these birds by ensuring a secure breeding ground on New Island.” It is also intended to commence the control of cats in the vicinity of the burrows. A response to its appeal has led to the donation of leftover ducting.

Whie chinned Petrel New Island
A White-chinned Petrel in its burrow on New Island, photograph from the New Island Restoration Project

Artificial burrows are commonly used both as an aid to allow the study of burrowing petrels and shearwaters (by providing an inspection lid as here) and to facilitate or encourage breeding at translocation sites, as well as on New Island to improve breeding in situ in otherwise sub-optimal conditions.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 05 September 2023

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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