Gulls behaving badly: first field report of 2012

A few days ago, Tracy Holmes and Bill Clark arrived on Appledore to begin a stint at the Appledore Island Migration Banding Station.  The station has been in operation since the early 1980s and over 100,000 birds have been banded there.  Bill and Tracy will be helping out (taking birds out of nets and recording data) for several days and will then start doing resights of banded gulls. Although not officially on “gull duty” this week, Tracy and Bill have been noting some interesting gull behavior.

Tracy writes:

Another entry in the annals of Great Black-backed Gull misbehavior early this breeding season. Banded Black-backed Gull 7E3 has adopted a new and gruesome, albeit successful, feeding strategy, cannibalizing neighboring Herring Gull nests for eggs. To date, the gluttonous bird has gobbled down 10 eggs and counting.

Pictured at bottom, relaxing lakeside, the culprit refused to face the camera.

The “evidence”



7E3 has a long history with the gull banding project.  The bird was banded as an adult in 2004, the first year of the banding project, and has nested near the dive locker every year since.  This is the first year that 7E3 has been seen eating large numbers of Herring Gull eggs.  Not a promising year for the unfortunate Herring Gulls nesting near 7E3.

Thanks to Tracy and Bill for this report from the front lines!

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