Situated in the South Atlantic Ocean, Spit Island is a small yet enchanting island that has become a haven for a wide array of bird species. Protected by towering cliffs, the island provides a safe habitat for nesting and breeding.
Although the island is uninhabited by humans, it holds an incredible diversity of avian life. With numerous lakes, wetlands, and forests serving as feeding and breeding grounds, the island has attracted bird enthusiasts from far and wide.
Its isolation from the mainland has resulted in an exclusive habitat for some endemic species, making Spit Island a unique birding destination.
In this article, we will discuss the different bird species that inhabit the island, their unique adaptations, and their significance in the island’s ecosystem.
1. Brown Booby
The Brown Booby is a large, seabird from the booby family Sulidae. It has a pantropical range and can be found in many areas of the world.
This bird lives in flocks and forages by plunging into shallow waters to catch small fish that are driven near the surface by predators or storms.
The brown booby is known for its short wings which make it highly maneuverable when hunting; this allows it to pursue prey quickly with sudden turns and dives.
Its diet also includes squid, crustaceans, eggs of other birds, as well as scraps from boats or ships they may come across while flying around coastlines.
They sometimes rest on floating objects during their long flights over open water between islands or continents.Scientific classification:
2. Great Egret
The Great Egret is a large, white bird found in many regions of the world. It has four subspecies that reside across Asia, Africa, Americas and southern Europe.
This species usually lives near bodies of water such as lakes and marshes. They are also now starting to spread into more northern areas of Europe due to climate change.
These birds have long yellow legs with an impressive wingspan for their size which allows them to soar majestically through the sky hunting for fish or amphibians in shallow waters below.
Their feathers have been used historically by Native Americans as part of traditional garments or ceremonies but this practice should be avoided today so these amazing creatures can thrive without harm from humans.Scientific classification:
3. Pelagic Cormorant
The pelagic cormorant, also known as Baird’s cormorant or violet-green cormorant, is a small member of the Phalacrocoracidae family and is often referred to as the Pelagic Shag.
It inhabits coastal areas and open oceans throughout Northern Pacific regions. These birds are relatively small in size with a dark greyish body and bright blue eyes which can be seen from far away distances.
Their wingspan extends up to two feet wide allowing them to glide through air currents at rapid speeds while they hunt fish for food.
They have an impressive diving ability that allows them to plunge underwater depths reaching 30 meters deep.
The pelagic cormorants are quite social creatures who live together in large flocks during both summer and winter months providing safety in numbers when hunting prey beneath the waves of their ocean home.Scientific classification:
4. Sooty Tern
The Sooty Tern is a bird that lives in the tropics of all three major oceans. It is found mostly on remote islands where it returns to nest and breed during its seasonal journeys.
This member of the Laridae family has been described by Carl Linnaeus as Sterna fuscata, though more recently it was given its current name Onychoprion fuscatus.
The sooty tern has dark grey wings and back, with white underneath for camouflage against predators when flying over open ocean waters; they are also adept at diving underwater in search of food such as fish or crustaceans which make up their diet.
They live in colonies and usually lay two eggs each year which incubate for about four weeks before hatching into fluffy little chicks.Scientific classification:
5. White Tern
The White tern, also known as the common white tern or Fairy Tern, is a small seabird species found across tropical oceans all over the world.
Known for its elegance and beauty by humans and other animals alike, these birds are truly mesmerizing with their snow-white feathers.
They can be seen soaring in high altitudes or circling around ships at sea looking for food. The Hawaiian name ‘manu-o-Kū’ translates to ‘bird of heaven’ which reflects how majestic this bird looks when it flies through the sky.
These lovely creatures often breed on isolated islands away from predators along with another smaller species called Little White Terns (Gygis microrhyncha).Scientific classification:
6. Wedge-Tailed Shearwater
The wedge-tailed shearwater is a medium-large seabird found in the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is one of several species referred to as muttonbirds, along with the sooty and short-tailed shearwaters.
These birds have long wings that allow them to soar for extended periods over large bodies of water while searching for food such as fish, squid, crustaceans, cephalopods and other marine invertebrates.
During mating season they nest on islands or small sandy beaches where both parents take turns caring for their chicks until they fledge at around two months old.
Wedge-taileds are an important part of many island cultures who traditionally hunt these birds during certain times of year when populations peak due to migration patterns.Scientific classification:
7. Glaucous-Winged Gull
The Glaucous-winged Gull is a large white-headed bird that belongs to the Larus genus. It has grey wings, which gives it its name – glaucescens – derived from Ancient Greek and describing this coloration.
This species of gull prefers coastal areas, rarely venturing far away from the ocean’s waters. As such, they can be found in western Canada, Alaska and parts of northern Asia down through Japan into Mexico.
The Glaucous-winged Gulls are often seen scavenging for food around beaches or fishing boats as well as nesting on islands off British Columbia during summer months.
They have adapted very well to urban environments too; their intelligent nature making them quick learners when dealing with humans.Scientific classification:
8. Double-Crested Cormorant
The double-crested cormorant is a majestic bird with an impressive wingspan, found across North America from the Aleutian Islands all the way down to Mexico.
Its black plumage stands out against its bright orange-yellow facial skin and some extended patches of white feathers on each side of its throat.
It measures between 28 – 35 inches in length and has webbed feet that enable it to swim gracefully through rivers and lakes, as well as coastal areas.
These birds are known for their voracious appetite for fish, sometimes diving over 100 ft deep into water looking for food.
Despite this reputation they also feed on crustaceans, amphibians and insects when available.
Cormorants have been part of many cultures throughout history due to their remarkable ability to fly long distances making them valued messengers or companions during fishing expeditions at sea.Scientific classification:
9. Sooty Shearwater
The sooty shearwater is a medium-large seabird in the Procellariidae family. It is also known as tītī in New Zealand and muttonbird, like its relatives.
Johann Friedrich formally described the bird in 1789.Scientific classification:
10. Bristle-Thighed Curlew
The Bristle-thighed curlew is a medium-sized shorebird that can be found breeding in Alaska. During the winter, this bird migrates to tropical Pacific islands.
It is called kivi or kivikivi in Mangareva and kihi in Rakahanga. Interestingly, it is believed that the bird may have influenced the name of the New Zealand flightless bird, the kiwi.
However, some linguists have proposed an alternate origin for the name. Despite its small size, the Bristle-thighed curlew is a formidable bird, known for its long legs and curved bill, which it uses to probe the sand for food.
It is a distinct and important species, facing threats from habitat loss and disturbance during migration and breeding. Conservation efforts are underway to protect this unique and remarkable bird.Scientific classification:
Also Featured In: Native Birds Of Kure Atoll,