Seabird Island News - Vol. 9 - 26 June 2024

Seabird Island News Banner - Volume 09


Black Tern courting a Roseate Tern
A Black Tern has been seen courting a variety of birds on Stratton Island. Has it found its match with this Roseate Tern? Photo: Stratton Island

Facing heat advisory and warning conditions, it was clear islanders weren’t the only ones feeling the heat. The Jenny Island team noticed a distinct shift in feeding studies as the sea surface temperature around the island reached 62 degrees during last week’s heat wave. Snipefish and even rock gunnels were some of the oddball forage fish seen during the extreme heat.

Eastern Egg Rock Arctic Tern, named Chicken Little
Lovingly named "Chicken Little," this Arctic Tern chick was banded on Eastern Egg Rock. Photo: Eastern Egg Rock

While news of new arrivals continues to trickle in, peak hatch has subsided. Researchers are shifting focus from banding to feeding and productivity studies. “Chubby” and “chunky” are buzzwords used to describe this year’s class of tern chicks. Some of these fluff balls have exceeded the 90-gram threshold (parents weigh around 120 grams)! Arctic Tern parents were working overtime keeping chicks fed, with feeding occurring four times a minute during one blind stint.


Pufflings squinting in the sun
"It sure is bright out here!"

As the Seal Island team conducted puffin productivity studies, fistfuls of sootballs, more commonly referred to as pufflings, have been grubbed from burrows. Many of them newly hatched! They also found their first Black Guillemot chicks. Neighboring Matinicus Rock has had sparse internet connectivity in the early season, but has confirmed puffin, Razborbill and Common Murre chicks whose diet has largely been hake, sandlance, and smelt.

Ama, this season’s Puffin Burrow cam chick, is getting bigger and more adventurous in the burrow. Thanks to daily fish feedings by Millie and Willie, which have been reaching an upward of 8 tripsdeliveries a day, this precocious puffling has grown daring enough to try and peek outside the burrow’s several openings. This past week, viewers watched with bated breath as a large piece of seaweed garnish got stuck in Ama’s throat (soon cleared, however!) and observed burrow defense behaviors from the puffin parents as exploring puffins dared to venture too close to Burrow #59.

 Puffling Ama peeps at the camera.
Ama peeps at the camera. Photo: viewer WinterRose

The Loafing Ledge and Boulder Berm cams have had a great showing of Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills, but they are also no short of visitors. Just this past week, keen-eyed viewers have spotted 3 Common Murres (at the same time!), 2 Herring Gulls, and 1 Laughing Gull! Common Eider mothers continue bobbing the seas with their chicks, while Song Sparrows flit around the tall vegetation. Of course, we cannot forget about all the adorable little tern chicks that have been scurrying around the Seal Island granite.

Common Tern chick begs parent for food.
Common Tern chick begs parent for food. Photo: moderator CamOp Eos

As the chickapalooza continues, follow along on to watch these adorably fluffy seabird chicks grow.

Other Birds

Jenny Island Tree Swallow fledglings in bird house
The Jenny Island team finally caught sight of Tree Swallow fledglings that hatched in the bird house. Photo: Jenny Island
Egg Rock crew undertaking predator population management
Braving tall, treacherous raspberry and sneeze-inducing angelica, the Egg Rock crew coated Laughing Gull eggs in corn oil rendering them inviable. The Seabird Institute utilizes this form of management to limit the growth of gull colonies at tern and puffin islands. Because the impact on eggs is often not recognized by gull parents, unlike egg removal, this approach limits the birds’ attempts to re-lay. This practice is done with proper state and federal permitting. Photo: Eastern Egg Rock

For additional news, please visit the Seabird Island News index page.

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