BVI News

Flamingos hatch on Tortola for the first time in over 70 years

These unfledged Flamingo chicks were captured at Josiah’s Bay pond on September 23, 2020. (Flamingos are born with dull grey feathers that gradually turn pink in the wild).

By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff

Flamingo chicks have hatched on Tortola for the first known time in more than seven decades. They were recently discovered at the Josiah’s Bay pond.

This is according to the Marine Director at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College, Dr Lianna Jarecki who told BVI News she believes the chicks were hatched around late July into early August of this year.

She said the parents of the chicks are from Necker Island. They are said to occasionally travel to ponds at Josiah’s Bay or Belmont to feed before returning to the private island.

“This year in February/March, there were a lot of flamingoes in Josiah’s Bay pond. It was full and I live just where you can see Josiah’s Bay pond from the hill and I noticed that they started building nests. So they built about 12 nests and started laying eggs. But then the pond started drying up to nothing and then the flamingos started flying away. But they still had eggs on the nests,” Dr Jarecki said.

She added: “Before these rains, I got a call from the National Parks Trusts saying that someone had seen some tall grey birds walking around Josiah’s Bay. So I went down there and sure enough, they were three nearly-fledged flamingo chicks that were walking around, looking like they would start flying within a week or two. But they weren’t flying yet, so they had to be born at Josiah’s Bay pond.”

A mystery to their survival

Dr Jarecki said it is a mystery as to how the chicks survived the dry conditions without the presence of their parents since flamingo chicks are known to heavily rely on both parents for survival.

“No egg can hatch just sitting in the hot sun unattended by a parent and I don’t believe a chick can grow up without being attended by its flamingo parent,” the Marine Director explained.

“I myself have no idea as to how they managed to hatch and grow up unless they were some nests somewhere. I couldn’t see them, but they are very colonial nesters … It is a mystery to me how they managed to survive that pond drying up and all the adults leaving,” she added.

Reason believed for the laying on Tortola

When asked what is the likely reason behind the flamingos laying eggs at the Josiah’s Bay pond, Dr Jarecki said it may be linked to the disruption of their environment on Necker Island due to the recent construction activity.

“The Necker Island’s population — because the ponds are so small there — those birds tend to fly around looking for other ponds to feed or to nest. Also, they have been breeding there so there’s a lot there for such a small pond,” Dr Jarecki stated.

“I think what we discovered when we were trying to figure out why they nested here in the first place this year is that Necker Island was doing some construction near the pond and that was disturbing some of the flamingos, so that is probably why they went out looking for another spot in the first place,” she explained.

Disappearance in the 1940’s caused by hunting

Dr Jerecki also explained the reason behind the disappearance of the flamingos in the territory in the 1940s. She pointed to historical data which proves that flamingos once lived and bred on Tortola.

“Flamingos are native to the British Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean and the last recorded flamingos in the British Virgin Islands that were from the natural population disappeared in the 1940s. They were being hunted for sport and their eggs were collected and it left disturbance,” she said.

‘Flamingo Pond’

“There are some evidence that they nested on Tortola just from historical pond names like there’s a big pond at Cox Heath that was used as dump and filled in so you don’t even know there was a pond there anymore. But it was called Flamengo Pond and typically ponds are only called flamingo ponds if flamingoes bred there,” she further said.

Resurgence in the 1990’s

After a nearly 50-year absence of the flamingos in the territory, she said a collaborative effort was made to revive their population in the 1990s.

She said Guana Island WildLife Sanctuary partnered with the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo and the National Parks Trust and imported eight flamingoes to do what she described as ‘a test run’ in the 1990.

“They did all right. Then in 1991, that’s when they brought 20 flamingos in … and those 20 were released into the wild on Anegada.”

Flamingos are protected by the Commission for International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) so Dr Jerecki said the birds brought into the territory in the nineties needed to have been born in a zoo to be legally allowed to enter the territory’s borders.

Additionally, she said that once transported from the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo, they could not have landed in another country before arriving in the BVI, or they would have been protected under CITES and therefore forbidden entry into the territory. 

The birds had, therefore, been flown into the BVI via a private jet.

These Flamingo chicks were captured at Josiah’s Bay pond on September 23, 2020. (Flamingos are born with dull grey feathers that gradually turn pink in the wild).

These unfledged Flamingo chicks were captured at Josiah’s Bay pond on September 23, 2020. (Flamingos are born with dull grey feathers that gradually turn pink in the wild).

Flamingos at Josiah’s Bay pond on July 11.

The flamingo nest at Josiah’s Bay Pond captured on August 5, 2020.

These Flamingo chicks were captured at Josiah’s Bay pond on September 23, 2020. (Flamingos are born with dull grey feathers that gradually turn pink in the wild).

Flamingos captured flying over Tortola on July 11.

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

16 Comments

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  1. Concerned says:

    Good story. A successful reintroduction of a species. Congratulations to all, let us continue to support the work of the National Parks Trust

    Like 29
    • If says:

      If the island savages had stopped eating the birds and the eggs there would be many many more.

      Like 9
      Dislike 5
      • What says:

        What are you really saying. No ‘island savages’ caused this. It was the Europeans. The Amarindians, like so many local people, valued and protected their environment and the wildlife. The they may hunt for their survival but they most always do so in a sustainable way. They is until European invaders. Then everything always seem to die off of go extinct afterwards.

        Like 8
        Dislike 4
    • Tourism says:

      Where is the training taking place for the Dec 1 opening for tourists. Please write an article or ask the Foy if the Dec 1 date is true. Tourists want to make reservations but nothing about entering protocol. Less than 60 days away and nothing.

      Like 3
      Dislike 1
  2. G.E.B.V.I says:

    This is amazing. It had about 20 Flamingos there and was a bit nervous when people started to notice as flamingos are very shy. Once the flamingos fly way from their eggs the chance of returning was tin. I’m happy they’ve had about 8-10 months in a natural habitat. Let’s give them privacy and in reward we will always have flamingos there for all of us to see from a safe distance.

    Like 20
  3. Kim Huish says:

    There were always a few adults that remained on the pond.

  4. God be the glory says:

    A positive news article amid all the misery in the world!

    Like 17
  5. Wide Eyed says:

    Captured, are they going to take them away from there or leave them?

  6. Tourism says:

    Where is the training taking place for the Dec 1 opening for tourists. Please write an article or ask the Foy if the Dec 1 date is true. Tourists want to make reservations but nothing about entering protocol. Less than 60 days away and nothing.

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  7. I love flamingos says:

    Takes years to restore what we humans can destroy so quickly! Simply wonderful to see a new generation of flamingos born, and surviving, on Tortola.
    I personally enjoy looking out for the flamingos at Josiahs each day and on Anegada whenever I visit and am thrilled every single time I see some.

    Thanks to all those who have done the work, over decades, to bring back flamingos to the BVI and to enable them to thrive. We need to continue the work by keeping their habitats clean and safe.

    Like 14
  8. Great story says:

    But i want this curfew gone.

  9. BVI Love says:

    Simply Lovely!

  10. Anonymous says:

    “If
    October 5, 2020 at 12:45 PM
    If the island savages had stopped eating the birds and the eggs there would be many many more.”

    Now who is supposed to smile and grin in the face daily when you could be grinning in the face of the devil with that this much hatred in his/her heart for you.

    That namu devil needs help.

  11. Flamingo Sighting says:

    I can see from my home flamingoes flying in to the pond at Fat Hogs Bay not too far from YEP. I think they maybe trying to make their a habitat too.

  12. Tortola says:

    Finally some good news.

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