The 2017 hurricane season has been one of the most devastating in history, battering the Caribbean and American coasts and leaving countries ravaged in its wake. Millions have been evacuated, upwards of 300 people killed, and over $ 180 000 USD in damages incurred, and the season isn't due to be over until the end of November. Yet we are not the only ones suffering; many tropical birds have been severely affected this year.
Birds, like humans, try to evacuate when a hurricane is sensed. Fleeing can be successful, as around 50,000 American flamingoes managed to avoid the storms, but it can also be lethal. Thousands of dead birds have been found covering the beaches of Caya Coco Cays, Cuba, thought to have been caught in the storm and blown into the ground. Those that survive are often founds hundreds of thousands of miles off course. Damage from the storm also harms biodiversity, stripping away food sources and rising water washing away habitats.
The implications of the recent hurricanes for tropical birds are serious. Already endangered species in the area are particularly threatened, such as the Black-Capped Petrel and the Puerto Rico Parrot, as they are not resilient enough to sustain an increase in intensity or frequency of hurricanes.