Monito Island, a 15-ha plateau surrounded by steep undercut cliffs, lies halfway between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Seven of the 9 sea birds are known to breed, and 2 (Blue-faced Booby and Laughing Gull) are here recorded as breeders in Puerto Rico for the first time. The Pelecaniformes are represented by 5 species, the White-tailed Tropicbird, the 3 pan-tropical boobies, and the Magnificent Frigatebird. The boobies all have long but annual breeding seasons, from fall through spring, showing a distinct breeding hiatus in the hot summer months, although some late-nesters may care for chicks during this period. The Magnificent Frigatebird has the most synchronous breeding, with a laying peak from late October to early December, when 70% of the population lay eggs. Four larids (Laughing Gull, Bridled Tern, Sooty Tern, and Brown Noddy) are summer residents vacating the island in August-September, and returning again in March-April. In general, they nest during the pelecaniform non-breeding season. The sea birds show a great range in nest site preference, with little overlap among them. Their diversity results from a combination of isolation, rugged cliffs, and the structural diversity of Monito Island. Although currently one of the outstanding sea bird colonies in the West Indies, Monito is threatened, and the colonies could be lost unless they are legally protected.
Additional publication details
The breeding ecology of sea birds on Monito Island, Puerto Rico