Monarch Over-Wintering Count
Bridled Quail-Dove of St. Thomas Male_Quail_Dove Female_Quail_Dove

In the fall of 2019, Black Pearl Ecological noted that the regenerative agroforestry methodologies being employed on our site were having a positive effect on the Bridled Quail-Dove population, as we were seeing as many as seven at one time.

Keeping a careful track of sightings we were able to confirm that the Bridled Quail-Doves were in fact very active on our agroforestry site.

Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, a dramatic change on the adjoining property forever changed the environmental nature of the area. As a result of this change, our sighting numbers dropped to zero.

In mid-2020 we had our first Bridled Quail-Dove sighting since the unfortunate event. Eventually the frequency of sightings improved, and we found they were spending more and more time on our site.

During mating season we were lucky enough to see a mating pair walking side-by-side through our mixed forest which contains both fruit and native trees which gives us hope for their future survival in our area.

As this bird is listed as endangered in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Black Pearl Ecological is firmly committed to this project. Our goal is to collect as much data and to film as much of its habits and life as possible to better understand the Bridled Quail-Dove, to aid in the development of an educational program and determine where they stand today.

Overview

The Bridled Quail-Dove (Geotrygon mystacea) is native to Antigua and Barbuda; Dominica; Guadeloupe; Martinique; Montserrat; Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico (main island)); Saint Barthélemy; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin (French part); Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.

The environmental groups that study wildlife populations and make assessments as to their status have listed the Bridled Quail-Dove as a species of Least Concern and have projected their population decline at 10% over the next 10 years or 3 generations, even though it is listed as Endangered in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Unfortunately, the projections do not take into account the potential impact of natural catastrophic events like hurricanes which occur regularly in the Caribbean.

When Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria passed through the Caribbean 12 days, apart they left behind them a path of environmental destruction. On the Island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the St. John Audubon Society has been dedicated to doing what they call “Christmas bird counts” for over 30 years, it was reported. “We usually count 2000 individual birds in one day. In 2017, we counted 500." This death toll of 75% of the Bridled Quail-Dove population occurred on just one island in a 12 day period.

Bridled Quail-Dove of the Caribbean population study being conducted by Black Pearl Ecological founder and Master Wildlife Conservationist  Roy DuVerger

References, The St. John Source, Winged Guests Slowly Returning to V.I., by Bethaney Lee, July 4, 2019
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Geotrygon mystacea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22690958A93296362, www.iucnredlist.org



Bridled Quail-Dove Summary

2022    83 sighting    Condition: Unknown    Location: St. Thomas

The Mongoose sightings have dropped of since the start of the year which is welcome news, even if we don't know why the activity level has dropped off.

As a result our Quail-Dove sights are starting to increase once again as we have seen two males on our site once again. We don't know if this is directly associated with the drop in mongoose sightings or if they feel comfortable nesting in this particular area.

2021    154 sighting    Condition: Unknown    Location: St. Thomas

Now that we have removed the last of the hurricane debris from our site, we have found that the debris was actually stopping them from using our entire site as we have a sightings in every portion. We have actually seen them fly into our site avoiding areas that have large amounts of dead trees covered in vines. We can only assume that they do not feel safe walking through those areas.

Now that our efforts to clean up the remain hurricane debris is complete, we have confirmed that we have two males and a female using our site on a regular basis this year. With the three of them being seen on a regular basis.

With mating season in full swing the larger male seems to have an advantage when attempting to attract the female.

We did hear the males calling quite often during the day, when finally we got to see a pair of quail-doves walking side-by-side through the area where our larger fruit trees are planted.

As we moved deeper into the year the number of mongoose sightings increased. As this happened the number of Quail-Dove sightings decreased until we did not record any sightings during the last two moths of the year.

2020    147 sightings    Condition: Good    Location: St. Thomas

It is an encouraging sign that our tireless efforts implementing agroforestry methodologies, have encouraged the Bridled Quail-Doves to return to our site. This is the first step in what we hope will provide us the opportunity to more closely study this endangered species.

We are working to create a soft edge between the farmed and non-farmed sections of our property to increase wildlife activity and plant variety. This will also create a "killing zone" as it is called, but that is the way nature works and the food chain must be preserved for all to survive.

The sightings are becoming more regular which is very exciting news. We are able to confirm that we have two Bridled Quail-Doves visiting our agricultural site on a regular basis. We hope this increase in activity will provide us with the opportunity to begin our filming portion of the project in order to expand or knowledge about their habits.

The sightings have remained very regular over the last few months which is very exciting news. Even though we were hoping to see more than two birds at any one time, that has not happened as of yet.



Bridled Quail-Dove Study Area

Our Bridled Quail-Dove study area is a agrosilvopastoral research site located in the Tropical Rainforest Climate Zone with Subtropical Dry forests in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 13.

All the vines have been removed creating a naturally heavy canopy resulting in increased amounts of carbon being stored in the forest floor, while simultaneously opening a flight zone beneath the canopy allowing for the natural movement of birds throughout the site.

Hurricane debris has been removed creating a natural forest floor littered with leaves and small sticks whose density varies with the seasons.

Other areas such as the banana and papaya fields have an open canopy with the ground covered with palm fronds, while our fruit trees are mixed in with the natural forest species.

Brush piles are situated in three areas on the edge of the site as well as stacked logs designed to provide Carpenter Bee nesting sites.

As this bird is listed as endangered in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Black Pearl Ecological is firmly committed to this project. Our goal is to collect as much data and to film as much of its habits and life as possible to better understand the Bridled Quail-Dove, to aid in the development of an educational program and determine where they stand today.



Bridled Quail-Dove Predators

Our endangered Bridled Quail-Dove does not fare well in areas of human activity with habitat loss being a major factor in the population decline.

However in our agrosilvopastoral research study site we have found that they will adapt to human activity that is not threatening to them as we routinely observe them carrying on with their feeding routines while they maintain about a 10 foot buffer between from us.

Black Rats, also known as Tree Rats, are a major threat to the Bridled Quail-Doves as breeding is very much dependent on rainfall. When breeding is successful, the female lays clutches of two eggs in a flimsy nest made of twigs only six meters (19 feet) or less above the forest floor, which makes them a prime target for the Black Rat.

In our site research we found that Black Rats build their nests in trees that are heavily laden with vines. Removing the vines eliminates these nesting locations and pushes them further out of the area, thus providing extra protection for the Bridled Quail-Dove nests.

Mongoose pose an additional threat as small birds are one of their food sources. As adult Bridled Quail-Doves spend most of their time on the ground they become ambush targets of the Mongoose.

These two non-native mammals can be found throughout the Bridled Quail-Dove range and the Black Rat in particular, whose population is known to expand after events such as hurricanes, is the primary suspect for the population decline.



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