Breeding success of Red-billed Tropicbirds Phaethon aethereus on the Caribbean island of Saba
In 2011 and 2012 the breeding success of Red-billed Tropicbirds Phaethon aethereus mesonauta was monitored on Saba, a 13-km2 island in the Caribbean Netherlands. The two colonies on the south and south-west side of the island both contain approximately 100–300 nests; breeding success was zero at these sites, due to predation of newly hatched chicks by Feral House Cats. In the single large colony of Old Booby Hill (estimated to contain approximately 1000 nests) on the east side of the island, rates of predation were lower, resulting in a breeding success (survival from laying until fledging, as far as observed) of 65%. Calculations of daily survival of eggs and chicks following Mayfield, resulted in a nesting success of 48% per pair. I conservatively estimated the size of the Saba breeding population to be at least 1300–1500 pairs, which is larger than the previous estimate of 750–1000 pairs. Potentially, the number of breeding pairs may be as high as 1850 pairs.