Roof-top nesting Herring Gulls

This project started with a simple observation at my wife’s office building in downtown Portland: Herring Gulls were nesting on the building ledge and roof, rather than on islands, their traditional nesting-grounds.  I wondered about the costs and benefits of using this human-created habitat?  I brought this observation to Dr. Peggy Friar, a colonial waterbird specialist in the Biology Department, and asked if she would be interested in collaborating on this question.  Over the years we recruited a number of UNE students (Jason Lariviere, Sarah Kelting, Sara Winchenbach, Natalie Underdown, Victoria Sanchez) to conduct fieldwork on the project, which has enlarged the number of roof-top colonies we monitor.  We are also collaborating with Dr. Julie Ellis at Tufts and Dr. David Bonter at Cornell to collect comparable data on Appledore Island, Isle of Shoals, and Dr. John Anderson, College of the Atlantic, studying gulls on Great D

This map illustrates the movements of an adult Herring Gull that nested on the roof-top of a building in downtown Portland, ME. The tracks span June 26 to Nov 20, 2017.

This map illustrates the movements of an adult Herring Gull that nested on the roof-top of a building in downtown Portland, ME. The tracks span June 26 to Nov 20, 2017.

uck Island near Acadia National Park.  This work was published in the journal Waterbirds in 2016.

Perlut, N.G., D.N. Bonter, J.C. Ellis, and M.S. Friar. 2016. Little cost to roof-top nesting in a declining population of Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) Waterbirds 39:68-73 (invited submission for special edition).

Robertson, G.J., Roul, S., Allard, K.A., Pekarik, C., Lavoie, R.A., Ronconi, R.A., Ellis, J., Perlut, N., Diamond,

A. W. and N. Benjamin. 2016. Morphological Variation Among Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls in North America. Waterbirds 39: 253-268 (invited submission for special edition).

 

We spend significant time banding chicks with field-readable bands (see picture).  In 2011-2017 we banded ~750 chicks on roof-tops in Portland, plus a handful of adults.  This effort had led to, and continues to lead to interesting insights in the wanderings of young (<5 year old) Herring Gulls (see map with yellow pins).

In the summer and fall of 2017 we began deploying satellite tags on Herring Gulls to

This map shows all of the resighted gulls (Jan 2012 through Nov 2017) that we banded on roof-tops in Portland, ME. Each pin stands for one individual resight. A few birds have been seen multiple times.

better understand their annual cycle.  We are extremely excited about this work (see maps with migratory routes)!

 

This map illustrates the movement of a hatch-year Herring Gull tagged in at the Pine Point dock in Scarborough, ME. The tracks range from Sept 29 to Dec 13, 2017.

This map illustrates the movement of a hatch-year Herring Gull tagged in at the Pine Point dock in Scarborough, ME. The tracks range from Sept 29 to Dec 13, 2017.

 

Herring Gull chick banded on the roof of the Portland Art Museum. Given its band code (ART) and banding location, we expect grand things from this chick.

Herring Gull chick banded on the roof of the Portland Art Museum. Given its band code (ART) and banding location, we expect grand things from this chick.

Victoria Sanchez, Environmental Science 2018, banding gulls on the roof, summer 2017.

Victoria Sanchez, Environmental Science 2018, banding gulls on the roof, summer 2017.

P4250023

 

Project collaborator Peggy Friar, Biology Department, UNE, preparing an adult Herring Gull for banding on Wood Island, ME.

Project collaborator Peggy Friar, Biology Department, UNE, preparing an adult Herring Gull for banding on Wood Island, ME. Just hatched Herring Gull chick.

 

Jason Lariviere (2011) helps band a Herring Gull chick on Wood Island, MEProject collaborator Peggy Friar, Biology Department, UNE, preparing an adult Herring Gull for banding on Wood Island, ME.

Press about the project:

Bill Green’s Maine, Jul 10, 2012

http://www.wcsh6.com/life/programming/local/207/article/206689/144/Seagulls-in-the-city

Roof-top Herring Gull nest in Portland, ME.

Roof-top Herring Gull nest in Portland, ME.3 or 4 day old Herring Gull chick.Just hatched Herring Gull chick.

WCSH Channel 6 Portland, ME, Jul 22, 2012

http://www.wcsh6.com/life/programming/local/bill_greens_maine/article/208045/10/Researchers-study-sea

Sara Winchenback (UNE 2012) measures a Herring Gull chick.

Sara Winchenback (UNE 2012) measures a Herring Gull chick.

gulls

Jason Lariviere (2011) helps band a Herring Gull chick on Wood Island, ME

Adult and chick Herring Gulls are banded with one color band (orange or blue with a three letter code) and one USGS metal band.

Adult and chick Herring Gulls are banded with one color band (orange or blue with a three letter code) and one USGS metal band.