Conservationists Pen Action Plan to Protect Extremely Elusive and Endangered Seabird

“Conserving the Diablotin” informed by a decade of exploration and research

Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations| | @JERutter

The Endangered “Diablotin,” or Black-capped Petrel, in flight. Photo by Kate Sutherland

(Washington, D.C., January 29, 2022) The Endangered Black-capped Petrel is a seabird so secretive that ten years ago, only one active nest had ever been located and monitored.

Despite this tremendous gap in knowledge, the International Black-capped Petrel Conservation Group created an action plan in 2012 to guide the conservation of this rare seabird. Now, after a decade of searches, studies, and management actions, producing tremendous advancements in our understanding of this species, partners have released a new guide to empower petrel conservationists. The recently released “Conserving the Diablotin: Black-capped Petrel Conservation Update and Action Plan” lays out nine strategies to enable conservation and address threats to the species and its habitat.

The Black-capped Petrel is the rarest nesting seabird in the Caribbean, with only an estimated 2,000 breeding pairs remaining worldwide. Conservationists have now located more than 100 nests on the island of Hispaniola, and have found evidence of smaller populations possibly breeding on Dominica, Guadeloupe, and Cuba. Once common in the Caribbean, the species' population was decimated over the past two centuries by overhunting, the introduction of mammalian predators, and the destruction of its forested nesting habitat. Predation and habitat loss continue to threaten the species; just this past season, a number of petrels were killed and nests lost due to predators and habitat destruction.

In the new Conservation Update and Action Plan, the authors identified the strategies and actions most likely to combat the threats of predation and habitat loss. Community engagement, already begun at some petrel sites, is key to habitat preservation. Other strategies, including continued searches for the petrel, capacity building of local conservation organizations, restoration approaches, and advocacy for the species when at sea, are in place or in planning. Preventing petrel extinction requires that all of these strategies be complementary and employed together.

“This new road map to the recovery of the Black-capped Petrel calls for a multi-organizational approach to implementation. Fortunately, efforts on behalf of the species thus far have been notable for a high level of cooperation and communication. It's been very gratifying,” says Jennifer Wheeler, lead author of the document.

“We have learned so much about the Black-capped Petrel in the past nine years,” says Brad Keitt, the Oceans & Islands Director at American Bird Conservancy (ABC). “This new plan is an important milestone in the conservation trajectory for this species. I am grateful for the broad participation in this effort, and our ability to learn and apply the lessons from the many other efforts around the world to protect similar species of seabirds.”

The core team that authored “Conserving the Diablotin” come from a varied group of organizations, including BirdsCaribbean, ABC, Clemson University, Cornell University, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean, and Grupo Jaragua. The authors drew on the expertise of a long list of collaborators from around the world and applied lessons learned from a number of successful projects with related species facing similar conservation problems.

The release of “Conserving the Diablotin” is a milestone for the group of individuals and organizations working to protect and study the Black-capped Petrel for so many years. This work was made possible by the financial support of many donors, chief among them the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

To learn more about the Black-capped Petrel, please visit the International Black-capped Petrel Conservation Group's Website:

For a copy of the Action Plan, please visit:


American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

BirdsCaribbean is a vibrant international network of members and partners committed to conserving Caribbean birds and their habitats. We raise awareness, promote sound science, and empower local partners to build a region where people appreciate, conserve and benefit from thriving bird populations and ecosystems. More than 100,000 people participate in our programmes each year, making BirdsCaribbean the most broad-based conservation organization in the region.

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean was established in 2000 with the mission to protect the Caribbean environment through research and community-based action. This mission is achieved through three core programs: (1) Conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Habitats; (2) Songbirds as Environmental Indicators; and (3) Conservation of Key Marine Bird Habitats.