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Posts Tagged ‘EBI’

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.

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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!

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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!

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Savannah sparrow sphere with giant mouth.

~SK

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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.

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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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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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Reggie flying and calling

While our sister restoration islands team with clouds of countless terns, the “colony” at EBI is a little more subdued. Meet Reginald Studpants McArthur, the affectionately named sole resident of our Common Tern colony. For the past few years Reggie has made his home among the harem of artificial tern decoys we install at the beginning of the season. Part of our job here on EBI is to monitor tern activity, so each morning we set up shop in the blind and prepare to watch Reggie for an hour as he goes about his daily business. He exhibits any number of behaviors such as fishing, preening, sleeping, circling the colony, chasing predators, and even attempting to court his decoys by offering  them big shiny fish (sometimes while standing on their heads!). So far, no takers.

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Reggie offering a Herring to the decoys

Terns, like other Larids (gulls and allies), each seem to have their own personalities as individuals. Even amongst a colony of thousands, their personalities shine through in the way they interact with others and their environment. Reggie is just the same and over the past several weeks it has been a real pleasure getting to “know” our tern as an individual. And by now he knows us, as well! When we enter the “colony” he is always right there with us, hovering above our heads or standing a few feet away, watching, calling, circling, and making sure we don’t harm his “friends,” the decoys. He trusts us and simply observes, curious about our activities but knowing we intend no harm. Novel objects, such as my backpack left behind on a rock, he seems to enjoy, hovering over them curiously. There is one thing he does not tolerate, however, and that is the Eagle who visits us on occasional forays from neighboring Green Island. Eagles are destructive predators of seabirds and will eat anything. Terns exhibit a mobbing behavior to scare away such predators and Reggie is no different. To protect his colony of decoys he takes on the perilous task of chasing away the Eagle all by himself, diving, screaming, and doing everything in his power to chase the Eagle all the way back to Green Island before he returns, triumphant, to strut amongst his decoys as if congratulations were in order. And indeed they are, for one small tern against a giant Eagle is no meager feat! You go, Reggie.

-Julia

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