A Gull with a History

Justin here again to share more exciting updates and stories. Many of the gulls that we have been writing about the past couple months have been banded within the past five years. 7E3 is not one of those gulls. On January 22nd, Alex Tongas spotted 7E3 at Point Pleasant Beach, NJ.

7E3's winter journey to New Jersey, 270 miles away

The story for 7E3 goes back to the beginning when Dr. Ellis first started banding the gulls. Bill Clark shares 7E3’s story:

The Great Black-backed Gull (GBBG) 7E3 was originally banded as an adult in 2004 by Dan Hayward on Appledore Island near the Dive Shed when the gull project was using easily lost and damaged plastic color rings on the foot opposite the USGS band.  The plastic rings were small and had no numerals on them.  In 2004, 7E3 was known as Y/BK (Yellow over Black).  Y/BK (7E3) was recorded in May 2006 nesting in the same location where banding had occurred with 6A8 as the mate. 

On May 28, 2007 Y/BK was nesting near the dive shed again; the damaged bands were removed and Y/BK officially became 7E3. Multiple sightings are recorded from Appledore Island in the same Dive Shed area for 2007, 2008, 2009 (mate was 1A5), 2010, and 2011. 

Some of the chicks raised by 7E3 have been banded thus giving us the possibility of following the next generation.  One of 7E3’s chicks banded in 2007 was reported on Appledore Island on the roof of the Kiggins Commons building in July of 2010 may return in 2012 to nest on Appledore.

We do not have an exact age for 7E3, only an estimate that 7E3, banded as an adult in May 2004, is probably at least 11 years of age.  Since GBBGs live long life spans of +-25 years, 7E3 may be on Appledore for quite a few years to come. 

All sightings are valuable, even seven consecutive days at the same locations provides needed data, but this one is especially exciting since the gull is well known on Appledore and descendents are also banded.

7E3 at Point Pleasant Beach - Photo by Alex Tongas

Another special gull mentioned here was 7E3’s mate, 1A5. 1A5, also known as Killer, had a rather unique feeding strategy. With two species of gulls breeding on the island without other predators, the gulls exhibit intraspecific  (within species) and interspecific (across species) predation during the breeding season.  In particular,  adult Great Black-backed Gulls frequently prey on Herring Gull chicks and eggs. Killer was unique because he would kill adult Herring Gulls, which I witnessed firsthand back in 2009. 7E3 was there as well, but clearly as an observer. 1A5 hasn’t been seen since 2010.

7E3's mate, 1A5, kills an Adult Herring Gull - Photo by Julie Ellis

Speaking of 1A5, did you know that Dr. Ellis was also banded? Two years ago, banding crew veterans Kristen Covino and Sarah Courchesne caught her, took measurements, and slapped on some fancy gull jewelry. A shiny USGS and a custom made 1A5.

If you see this gull, please report your sighting to the Appledore Gull Project or the USGS service - Photo by Holly Jessop

Thank you Alex for this great resight! Keep your eyes peel because you never know where you’ll find an Appledore gull!

Long time gull wrangler Bill Clark contributed to this post.

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