Tilloo Cay National Reserve
This 11-acre shoreline on Tilloo Cay, off the eastern side of Great Abaco south of Elbow Cay, is an area of outstanding beauty. Exposed to the Atlantic Ocean the shoreline is an important nesting site for Tropic Birds, Yellow-crowned night heron, several species of terns and also other seabirds.
- Established: 1990
- Location: Abaco
- Size: 11 Acres
Mr. and Mrs. David Gale owned land at the north end of Tilloo Pond in Abaco, which they intended to offer for resale and eventually develop. They, however, realized that the ocean front of their new acquisition was a nesting site for Tropicbirds, as well as other birds. The Gales stumbled upon two setting birds under rocky ledges and felt that it would be a shame to allow the area to be developed and then destroyed.
In a letter to Mr. Gary Larson, the Trust’s Executive Director, on February 26, 1989, Mr. Gale described the property as “A wild piece of shore with no reef to protect it, the waves pile in from deep water and pound mercilessly on the eroded coral rock. It is covered with air tight low growth of silver buttonwoods, and the hardiest of wiry entanglement. It has a very attractive, wild and pristine look about it”. In this letter Mr. Gale said that he would offer the Trust his property as a gift to the people of Abaco and The Bahamas, with the provision that it be kept natural forever.
In May 1990, The Bahamas National Trust was given Tilloo Cay by the Gales. Today, Tilloo Cay is still a wild and pristine home for many variety of birds.
Importance for Biodiversity
White – Tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus): This is the typical Tropicbird of The Bahamas. These birds are white overall with long streamer-like central feathers in adult birds. They have heavy black stripes on the upper wing and outermost primaries. The bill is yellow or orange. These birds are a common breeding resident in the West Indies from March through June, however in The Bahamas; the birds remain in residence until October. It is unknown where these birds migrate to outside of the breeding season.
When close to shore, their habit of making numerous approaches to the nesting cliffs before landing is distinctive. Tropicbirds feed primarily on squid and fish at sea, where they dive on prey from substantial heights. Tropicbirds only infrequently alight on the water, and on land they shuffle around with their breasts against the ground.
Tropicbirds are best observed flying near the vertical sea cliffs it uses to breed. Aerial courtship displays are performed, with the male drooping its tail as it flies before the female. Landing on the cliffs is often difficult, thus several passes are sometime required before a successful landing is executed.