The use of acoustics to monitor burrow-nesting white-chinned petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis at Bird Island, South Georgia
Tape recordings of two types of vocalisations were used to assess burrow occupancy by white-chinned petrels (Procellaria aequinoctialis) at South Georgia. Birds responded to the rattle call on 74% of occasions and a wheezy call on 85%, with only 10% failing to respond to both calls played one after the other. Occupancy was determined throughout the pre-egg and incubation period and results confirmed what is known about patterns of occupancy by white-chinned petrels. Adults in burrows known to hatch a chick responded on average to 69% of recordings during incubation and less than 10% in only 4% of burrows. Significant inter-site and inter-annual variations in occupancy were recorded, suggesting that this method is sensitive to changes in the number of petrels returning to breed. A sampling protocol for providing population indices for monitoring purposes is recommended.