Historical and current status of the Cattle Egret (<em>Bubulcus ibis</em>) in the U. S. Virgin Islands, and management considerations

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Douglas B. McNair
Fred W. Sladen

Abstract: Christmas Bird Counts, other historical data sources, and recent data from the U. S. Virgin Islands demonstrated that Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis) were most abundant on agricultural and developed St. Croix where they first arrived in 1954-1955, considerably less numerous on developed St. Thomas (where they are concentrated at Mangrove Lagoon and the adjacent landfill), and least numerous on undeveloped St. John. Most Cattle Egret breeding colonies have been located in rural mangrove wetlands. However, breeding colonies and roosts that have formed in highly modified xeric forest in two urban areas on St. Croix since the 1980s have introduced local damage control issues, even though the total number of breeding pairs on St. Croix may have decreased. Management recommendations for alleviating damage and hazards by Cattle Egrets are available for four sites on St. Croix, three in urban areas (Frederiksted, Protestant Cay) and one in a rural area (Henry E. Rohlsen Airport).


Keywords: abundance, breeding, Bubulcus ibis, Cattle Egret, colony sites, distribution, management, mangroves, St. Croix, surveys, U. S. Virgin Islands, waterbirds


Resumen: Estado actual e histórico y consideraciones de manejo de la Garza Ganadera (Bubulcus ibis) en las Islas Vírgenes de EEUU- Los conteos navideños de aves, otras fuentes históricas de datos y datos recientes en las Islas Vírgenes estadounidenses demuestran que la Garza Ganadera (Bubulcus ibis) fue más abundante en la agrícola y desarrollada isla de St. Croix, cuando llegaron por primera vez en 1954-1955, menos numerosa considerablemente en la desarrollada isla de St. Thomas (donde están concentradas en Mangrove Lagoon y en los basureros adyacentes) y menos numerosa aún en la subdesarrollada isla de St. John. La mayoría de las colonias de cría de la Garza Ganadera se encuentran localizadas en manglares. Sin embargo, las colonias de cría y los sitios de descanso que han creado en los bosques xéricos altamente modificados en dos áreas urbanas de St. Croix desde los 80s han introducido temas sobre el control del daño local, aunque el número total de parejas nidificando en St. Croix puede haber disminuido. Recomendaciones de manejo para aliviar el daño y las amenazas que esta especie está provocando están disponibles para cuatro sitios en St. Croix, tres áreas urbanas (Frederiksted, Protestant Cay) y un área rural (Henry E. Rohlsen Airport).


Palabras clave: abundancia, aves acuáticas, Bubulcus ibis, colonias, cría, distribución, Garza Ganadera, Islas Vírgenes de EEUU, manejo, manglares, muestreos, St. Croix


Résumé: Statut historique et actuel du Héron garde-boeufs (Bubulcus ibis) dans les Iles Vierges Américaines et implications pour la gestion- Les données historiques dont les comptages de Noël et des données récentes obtenues dans les Iles Vierges américaines montrent que les Hérons garde-boeufs (Bubulcus ibis) sont plus abondants sur l’Ile agricole et développée de Sainte-Croix qu’ils ont colonisée en premier dans les années 1954-1955, mais beaucoup moins nombreux sur l’île développée de Saint Thomas où ils se concentrent dans les environs de Mangrove Lagoon, et le moins abondant sur l’Ile de Saint-John qui est peu développée. La plupart des colonies de nidifications et les dortoirs ont été trouvés dans des zones rurales humides de mangrove. Cependant, les colonies et dortoirs qui se sont installés dans les années 1980 dans le forêt xérique dégradée de deux zones urbaines de Sainte-Croix ont conduit à des enjeux de contrôle des dégâts locaux occasionnés, même si le nombre total de couples nicheurs a diminué à Sainte-Croix. Des plans de gestion pour contrôler les dommages et les risques dus au Héron garde-boeufs sont disponibles pour 4 sites dont 3 en zone urbaine (Frederiksted, Protestant Cay) et un en zone rurale (Henry E. Rohlsen Airport).


Mots clés: abondance, Bubulcus ibis, colonies, distribution, études, gestion, Héron garde-boeufs, Iles Vierges américaines, mangrove, nidification, oiseaux d’eau, St. Croix

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