On 2 September 2009, 8A0 (a Great Black-backed Gull) was found deceased at Henderson Harbor, NY on the shore of Lake Ontario; the bird was reported to the Bird Banding Lab (http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/).
8A0 was banded as a breeding adult in May 2005 on the northwest side of Appledore Island and was thought to be a male; his mate, 9C8, was banded as an adult in May 2006. Neither bird was observed at Appledore in 2007 (hard to say whether they weren’t there or if they were there, but not observed). Both birds were observed at that same nest site on the northwest side of Appledore in May 2008 and 2009.
This report is somewhat unusual; there have been relatively few reports of Appledore gulls hanging around the Great Lakes. This is not necessarily because few Appledore gulls overwinter at the Great Lakes – they might be there, just not observed by someone who would report them. The overwintering range of Great Black-backed Gulls that nest in the Northeast includes the Great Lakes. Therefore, 8A0 was behaving like a typical GBBG. It’s not clear how this bird died; we know he was at least 5 or 6 years old when banded. Gulls can live to be in their 20s!
We don’t know whether 9C8 was overwintering with her mate; we also don’t know whether she will return to nest with another male next summer. Stay tuned….