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Archive for June 27th, 2012

Hello again! As many of you may now know today, June 27th, is guillemot appreciation day. This day holds a special meaning for us on the Brother’s, not just because it is the perfect excuse to eat chocolate cake, but also because three days ago we found our very first black guillemot chicks of the season.

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We had a little trouble with the cake…

 Guillemot eggs do not usually hatch at the same time. Even eggs in the same burrow may be a day or two apart. The chick that hatches first is referred to as the A chick and is typically larger and heavier than the B chick. As part of our routine on the Brother’s we check guillemot burrows every two to three days. As the chicks are now beginning to hatch we will be measuring their wing cords and taking their weight during our checks to monitor their growth. At the end of the season these measurements will help us to determine the guillemot’s productivity. Our first A chick, Albert, weighed in today at a whopping 63g! Our B chick, Bathalamue, came in at a slightly more modest 57g. In order to continue to tell the chicks apart in their burrow as they grow we must somehow mark either one or both of the chicks. At this stage a small dab of nail polish on the A chicks down does the job quite nicely. Later on we may replace the nail polish with a more permanent metal band with an identification number around their leg so they can continue to be recognized in years to come.

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Albert, looking for a fight!

Even though they are only a few days old Albert and Bathalamue have very distinctive personalities. Bathalamue is quite calm and lets us take our measurements without a fuss. Albert on the other hand is quite feisty and full of sass. From the moment we first pulled him out of the burrow he was a rage filled ball of fluff trying to snap at our fingers with his tiny black bill.

We found one new pair of chicks today and look forward to the next few weeks as still more will continue to hatch. We certainly appreciated our guillemots today and we hope you do the same!

~SK

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Adult Black Guillemot foraging near shore at Petit Manan Island. We often see them carrying rock gunnel (a red eel-looking fish) in their bills.

As you glance at a calendar organizing your plans for the rest of a glorious Maine Summer, it might escape your attention that today is a very special day.  Today is International Guillemot Appreciation Day!!  The predominant object of our daily attention here on Petit Manan is the tern colony and with just under 2,000 nest sites this year they do keep us busy.

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Guillemot parent with chick in their granite nest site

In honor of the many other avian residents that call PMI their breeding home, we are very happy to honor this internationally recognized day specifically for this alcid.  Maine is the tip of their southern range, so we are the only state in the lower 48 to host them.

We have noted over 50 Black Guillemot nests here on the island and some chicks have begun to hatch.

Many mornings, during our twice daily lighthouse survey,  we count more than 200 of them in the waters surrounding the island, paddling around with their bright red feet.

Happy Guillemot Appreciation day to our feathered friends here in the Gulf of Maine!

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Black Guillemot Chick

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