The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is an important region to Reddish Egrets (Egretta rufescens); however, current status of this species in the Bahamas is lacking. From 2008–2010, a breeding survey of Reddish Egrets was conducted in Great Inagua to 1) document breeding status, 2) document breeding phenology, and 3) estimate the number of breeding pairs. A total of 87 Reddish Egret nests on Great Inagua over two breeding seasons were recorded; the proportion of white, dark and mixed-morph nesting pairs varied but averaged (±S.D.) 68.4 ± 7.5, 18.2 ± 2.4, and 13.4 ± 5.1%, respectively. Based on these surveys, the breeding season range extends from December to May, varying annually due to changes in precipitation. Territorial aggression of solitary nesting pairs in Reddish Egrets was observed, previously unreported for the Caribbean. Damage to mangrove islands from Hurricane Ike in September 2008 appeared to increase nesting concentrations on Lake Rosa; solitary nesting decreased from 36% before, to 10% after the hurricane. Because the surveys before and after the hurricane did not encompass the entire breeding seasons, increased concentration of nesting may have been influenced by other factors besides Hurricane Ike. Even with incomplete breeding season surveys, these estimates of nesting pairs indicate a >50% decrease in number of breeding pairs of Reddish Egret on Great Inagua since the 1980s; this is a conservation concern as the population is distinct.
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Vol. 34 • No. 2