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Archive for August 4th, 2017

The Home Stretch

The season is winding down here on Petit Manan Island, but there is still much to do before the rest of the crew leaves! While we have begun deconstructing our observation blinds, most of our terns have left and begun their migration to the Southern Hemisphere! Common terns will migrate to South America, while Arctic terns will end their migration in Antarctica. It can be assumed that Common terns winter in Argentina and Brazil, as we had some birds with their bands nesting on PMI. However, we are excited to see the exact migration route and destination of our 5 satellite nano-tagged Common terns!

Despite the terns leaving, we still have our hands full with other birds. We’ve been quite successful in our puffin trapping efforts! We use box traps with a see-saw top and one peg in the side of the box. When the puffins walk onto the side without the peg, the top tips and you have yourself a puffin! Crew members sit in a blind and watch carefully to minimize the time and stress on the puffin inside the box. After measurements are taken and they are banded (if they aren’t already), we release them back to the sea.

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Puffins showing some interest in one of our box traps. 

We’ve also been monitoring Leach’s Storm Petrel productivity by determining the activity of sod burrows all over the island. Burrow scopes come in handy to look inside them because most burrows are too small to be grubbed by hand. We also play Leach’s Storm Petrel calls to hear callbacks from potentially active burrows. When possible, we take out adults and chicks to band them!

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One of our Leach’s Storm Petrel chicks (Ziggy) has grown quite a bit over the past couple weeks!

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but poop has become very handy to us lately. We collect fecal samples from tern chicks, puffin chicks, and adult puffins. Afterwards, a lab will process them and based on DNA in the fecal matter, we will know what exactly the birds have been eating. In addition to our provisioning data, this is helpful in determining what species of fish are making up the birds diet.

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One method of collecting fecal samples, wrapping foil around chicks and waiting patiently. This puffin chick looks like the world’s cutest burrito!

It’s our last week here, and we can’t believe the season is coming to an end already! I’m going to miss all of the amazing creatures that inhabit this island, but more than that, I’m going to miss the crew that gave me an awesome experience for my first field job. They’re truly wonderful people and make the work so much fun.

~Jennalie Lutes

 

 

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