Researchers studying the Cory’s shearwater (Ciefa) colony in Gozo as part of the EU LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project (1), found one of the study birds dead in front of its nesting burrow last week (Photo). The X-ray taken by a veterinarian confirmed that the protected bird had been shot.
The researchers also noticed that up to four other birds from two different nests at the study site had disappeared. One of these nests was empty, whereas the other one still contained an egg.
The Cory’s shearwaters are currently incubating and both the male and the female take it in turns to sit on their single egg. If a nest is found empty, it means the egg has been lost and the pair’s only breeding attempt for this year has failed. An abandoned egg suggests that either one or both parent birds have died, as during incubation one of them is always in the nest
LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project is co-funded by the European Commission and the Maltese government as well as several BirdLife International partners.
“The killing of the study birds in Gozo not only hampers the efforts of this EU Project, but also puts the whole colony in peril. Seabirds are already declining all around the world and direct persecution can only make their situation worse,” said Dr Benjamin Metzger, Chief Researcher of the LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project
This is the third Cory’s shearwater that was found shot by the project researchers this year.
Malta hosts internationally important breeding colonies of three species of seabirds, including the Cory’s shearwater. LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project aims to identify the important areas for these species at sea and create marine protected areas under the EU law.
(1) The EU LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project is a partnership between BirdLife Malta, the Ministry for Tourism, Culture and the Environment, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife partner in the UK) and Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves (BirdLife partner in Portugal). The Project carries out research to identify Marine Important Bird Areas for the three species of seabirds breeding in Malta: Cory’s shearwater, Yelkouan shearwater and the European Storm Petrel. The Project runs for five years (2011-2016) and receives 50% funding from the EU’s LIFE instrument. http://www.birdlifemalta.org/Content/LIFEPROJECTS/maltaseabirdproject/1115/