What’s special about 42C?
There is a special interest in 42C because 42C is one of three hatchlings from nest 14H321. Documenting the survival to age-three for all three chicks in a nest is noteworthy. The survival rate for gull chicks is usually about 25 percent and to have a set of parents with all three chicks from the same hatch-year documented as surviving to at least age-three is unusual.
The ‘usual’ number of eggs in a Herring Gull nest is three. Predation, infertility, and abandonment often reduce the hatch rate to less than three. It takes two good parents to hatch all three eggs and protect and feed all three chicks to fledging. If food is scarce, predators invade or the season is stormy, wet and cold some or all of the clutch may be lost. If either parent is shot, poisoned, or dies of other causes no chicks will survive. It takes two …
After fledging chicks face a number of challenges, including finding food, competing for food, avoiding predators, surviving weather, injuries, and human poisonings and shootings. Some gull parents may assist chicks after fledging, the data on this is sparse. Post-fledging assistance can improve survival rates. If a chick survives the first winter then odds of reaching ‘adult’ status at age-four increase and the four-year adult Herring Gull may return to the natal colony to nest as an adult.
So what do we know about the three chicks of nest 14H321 who hatched in June 2014?
42C was banded July 19, 2014 at a monitored nest on Appledore Island and is pictured above on November 24, 2017 approaching four years of age. Sharon Harvell forwarded Scott’s November picture of 42C. 42C survived.
Sibling 41C was observed by Dr. Sarah Courchesne on Appledore Island in July 2017, thus documenting survival for 3 years as of July 2017. 42C survived and hopefully still survives.
Sibling 43C was reported at Ipswich, MA April 2017, at Sandy Point May 2017 and Salisbury Beach June 2017 making the three-year mark also. Making 43C the third hatchling from nest 14H321 to survive to the three-year mark. Supper-spotter Dave Adrian provided the reports for 43C
So, we have documented all three chicks from the same nest to the near-adults age of three. Now, hopefully we will have more reports forthcoming on all three Herring Gulls, 41C, 42C, and 42C and eventually find all three nesting on Appledore Island in the next year or two.
Mention must be made of the many students and volunteers who helped with banding and spotting of the gulls; Sara Gonzales banded 41C, Justin Stilwell (now Dr. Stilwell) banded 42C, and Sarah Trifiletti banded 43C. All three were assisted by other team members in capturing, holding, and properly releasing the ‘almost-ready-to-fledge’ adult-sized chicks.