Posts Tagged ‘eastern brothers island’

The Eastern Brothers Island crew checking in here with one last update before our departure.  Our days are coming to an end for the 2013 season, which brings about bitter-sweet emotions.  I find it hard to believe how quickly the summer has gone by and yet the other part of me thinks “My, won’t it be nice to take a real shower and eat ice cream!”  It has been a wonderful experience living out on this beautiful island and we have definitely come to feel as though the little cabin feels close to home.


Fresh picked flowers and welcome sign on cabin.

Due to quite a few early storms, as well as the presence of a mink on the island early season, the black guillemots had a wide-range of laying dates.  There are several chicks that have already fledged or will in the next few days, yet there are also a few that hatched just days ago.  Black Guillemot chicks will fledge on average after 33 days in the burrow and do not migrate south and so there is not a huge rush to get them out the door, per se.  Here are pictures of the two stages:


A one week old chick practicing how to be fierce.


The oldest chick, just a day or two before leaving the burrow.

As a parting thought, some people believe that a pot of gold lies at the end of a rainbow, but we have reason to believe otherwise (see last photo).  We hope you have enjoyed reading our posts and that you continue to have an interest in seabird colonies and the work we do on the Maine coast!  Cheers!  ~Mary and Jake


Somewhere over the rainbow lies Eastern Brothers Island.


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Hello once again from the Brothers! I am sure many of you are wondering how Reggie is doing with his harem of decoys. Well exciting news; the other day Reg was spotted presenting a nice big fish to a real live lady tern! Unfortunately having spent so long with the decoys Reg forgot his manners and was a little too insistent our new lady tern take his fish. She flew off, but not to worry, she was back the next day so Reg has an opportunity to try again.


An example of a chick who had a little too much rock gunnel.

In the area of guillemot chick checks we have chicks from two days old weighing in at 37g to Alfonso a tubby 27 day old chick at 345g. There is quite a size difference between some of our chicks which their parents do not seem to take that into account. In taking measurements on our two day old chicks we found that half of the size of the chick could be accounted for by its crop that was stuffed full of delicious nutritious rock gunnel. The poor chick looked as though he wished he would have stopped eating rock gunnel long before he had. We all feel for you little chick!


A Leach’s storm petrel, presented here as a popsicle bird.

We at the Brothers are very pleased to announce that we have a Leach’s storm petrel who has decided to take up residence on Western Brothers. The Leach’s Storm Petrel is nocturnal. We have heard them calling several times during the night but until now we have not been able to find if they have actually been nesting here. Our petrel was incubating a single egg deep inside a burrow of loose dirt. Storm petrel’s have a very distinctive odor which you may be able to smell at the entrance of the burrow if it is active. The odor is not entirely unpleasant as they smell very much like old books.

One last update for you. We have finally found some young Savannah sparrows. We had known that they were breeding here but we had not been able to find a successful nest until now. As you can see at this age they are almost perfect spheres with over-sized mouths. Adorable!


Savannah sparrow sphere with giant mouth.


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Tern egg on the rocks with decoys behind it

Things are looking up for the seabirds at the Brother’s Islands lately! Events have taken a Tern for the better with the arrival of a new Common Tern pair and their egg. For the past several days now a new pair of terns have taken up residence in the decoy area with our old standby, Reginald McArthur, the tern who has lived here alone for the past several years now.


Tern Egg laying on the rocks

He seems as happy as we are to have new friends to fish, play, and preen with as the three companions glide around the decoys together calling and circling. All this activity attracted yet another, fourth, tern to the area this morning and it was seen interacting with the others; we hope it will reTern and bring its friends! No one has paid much attention to the egg that was laid on the rocks but we continue to check and see if it has been rolled, an indication that it is being incubated by the parents. So far, it doesn’t look active, but just having the parents around is a huge step in the right direction!

Although you can’t see them, there are 4 Terns, 1 Razorbill, and 3 Least Sandpipers in this view from the blind!

In other news, Razorbill numbers have been increasing in the past few days as we have seen as many as 200+ flying in small flocks across the water. Several, presumably young birds looking for a nesting site, have visited the islands in the past few days, circling and flying very close to it. One razorbill came a mere 3 inches from landing in one of the decoy areas this morning before it veered off to rest in the water close to shore. He was back at it again during lunchtime as we were out doing our “chick checks.”

Speaking of chicks, the little black fuzz balls are continuing to thrive and grow, some have even begun to sprout real feathers and are looking more like gangly teenagers than young chicks now. It’s amazing how fast they grow, gaining sometimes over 1/3 of their body weight every 2 days. We now have 36 chicks in our productivity burrows with more hatching every day. All in all things are looking up for the Brother’s Islands! Here’s to hoping that the next few weeks continue to bring good news. Keep your fingers crossed!

– Julia

A pair of younger chicks, just because they are so cute! Photo by Wingyi.

Our oldest pair of Guillemot chicks: Alfonso and Bernadette, 16 and 17 days old.

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