Avian reproduction is a process that requires extensive energetic input by parents, particularly in pelagic seabirds. Parental infanticide has rarely been reported in pelagic seabirds, and its frequency among taxa is therefore difficult to determine. Using data from remote cameras, two cases of probable parental infanticide in Red-billed Tropicbirds Phaethon aethereus were captured on Sint Eustatius in the 2021–2022 breeding season. Both cases are presented with images collected from remote cameras as evidence. While appearing counterproductive, parental infanticide may provide an alternative reproduction strategy that favors lifetime reproductive success over short term success.
PATRICK G.R. JODICE
Investigating the foraging patterns of tropical seabirds can provide important information about their ocean habitat affinities as well as prey choice. Foraging studies of Red-billed Tropicbird Phaethon aethereus populations in the Caribbean are lacking. We sought to rectify this by opportunistically sampling regurgitates at nest sites on the island of St. Eustatius, Lesser Antilles, and by linking the GPS tracks of foraging adults to remotely sensed environmental variables. Diet samples were dominated by Exocoetidae (59.5%) and Belonidae (14.9%), although we were unable to identify 25.5% of samples due to digestion. Tropicbirds nesting on St. Eustatius exhibited diurnal foraging patterns, foraged in deeper waters with higher chlorophyll concentration, and consumed fewer Exocoetidae species compared to travelling behaviour. The maximum distance travelled from the colony was 953.7 km, with an average trip length of 176.8 (± 249.8) km. The biologged birds crossed multiple exclusive economic zones and marine protected areas, and on that basis, we suggest that efforts to protect and conserve this species may require transboundary collaboration throughout the wider Caribbean.