Transparent utfyllnad Zino's Petrel – a brief history
A Zino's Petrel at Pico do Arieiro.
Photo: Frank Zino (FCP)

Birds restricted to islands are susceptible to extinction, and burrow or ground-nesting birds are particularly vulnerable to introduced mammalian predators. Human intervention has also played a vital part. Birds have been used as a source of food, and in more recent times the rarer species have suffered from specimen and egg collection. The island of Madeira and its resident species, which include the endemic Zino's Petrel or Madeira freira, Pterodroma madeira, are no exception. From subfossil evidence, this bird was once abundant. It was first recorded in 1903, and was already limited to the high central mountain massif of Madeira. By the middle of the century it was considered extinct, but a relict population was rediscovered in 1969 by Alec Zino, who, having recorded the calls of Fea's Petrels, Pterodroma feae, on Bugio reasoned that if Padre Ernesto Schmitz had not been able to distinguish Pterodroma feae & madeira, in 1903 when a shepherd brought him a bird from the high mountains above St Antonio, then maybe their calls were also similar. He played the Bugio calls to the shepherds in the area. Most were unable to identify the sound. Then a man called Lucas said he knew the sound from near Pico do Cidrão. After much more investigation the breeding colonies were found.
   In 1985, all known breeding attempts were disrupted by introduced rats, to the extent that no young fledged. In 1986 the Freira Conservation Project (FCP) was founded with the aim of increasing the population of Zino's petrel, by controlling rats and human interference, the principal perceived threats to the species. This control was extended to cats after the disaster of 1991, in which a cat(s) managed to get onto one of the breeding ledges and kill 10 adult birds. Since that date cat traps have been placed in the area and anything between 6-10 cats are removed from the area each year. The results of these efforts have been positive and the small colony is making a slow, but steady recovery. To maintain this success, a conservation strategy for the future is suggested.
   In 2003, a new colony was discovered in the Pico do Arieiro area of Madeira Natural Park by the Park climbers. This colony had been predicted as a result of listening work carried out by the FCP. The site is located some distance from the other five previously known colonies, all on inaccessible mountain ledges. The colony, with 19 burrows, nine of which contained eggs, was also the largest known for this bird, which was previously thought to number only 20-30 pairs.

Here you'll find four photos on Zino's Petrel»
Here you'll find three excellent close-ups on Zino's Petrel by Carlos Viveiros»

I am grateful to Frank Zino (Madeira), who kindly contributed the excellent photograph above and also provided valuable information and commented on this text.

Conservation of Zino's petrel Pterodroma madeira in the archipelago of Madeira. Zino, F., Oliveira, P., King, S., Buckle, A., Biscoito, M., Neves, H.C. & Vasconcelos, A., Oryx 2/2001: 128-136

Zino, F.& Biscoito, M (1994) Breeding seabirds in the Madeira Archipelago. Pp.172-185 in D. N. Nettleship, J.Burger and M. Gochfield, eds. Seabirds on Islands: threats, case studies and action plans. Cambridge,U.K.: BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series nº1).

Zino, F., Biscoito, M. & Zino, P. (1994) Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae. In Birds in Europe: their Conservation Status. (eds G. Tucker & M. Heath) pp.60-61. BirdLife International, Cambridge,UK

Zino, F., Biscoito, M. & Zino, P. (1994) Zino's Petrel, Pterodroma madeira. In Birds in Europe: their Conservation Status. (eds G. Tucker & M. Heath) pp.62-63. BirdLife International, Cambridge,UK.

Zino, F., Heredia, B. & Biscoito, M.(1996) Action plan for Fea's Petrel (Pterodroma feae). In Globally threatened birds in Europe, Action plans. (Eds: Borja Heredia, Laurence Rose & Mary Painter.) pp:25-31 Council of Europe Publishing.

Zino, F., Heredia, B. & Biscoito, M.(1996) Action plan for Zino's Petrel(Pterodroma madeira). In Globally threatened birds in Europe, Action plans. (Eds: Borja Heredia, Laurence Rose & Mary Painter.) pp:33-39 Council of Europe Publishing.

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