Back to Sable

19 04 2012

After a year of traveling on the eastern seaboard, the Sable Island gulls are making preparations for their upcoming breeding season.  A pink-tagged gull was spotted back on Sable Island on April 14.  Al Wilson, Sable Island Supervisor with Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service, saw this bird about 7km west of Main Station.

On Sable most Herring Gulls don’t lay eggs until mid to late May.  Although it’s a bit early for nesting, there is still plenty to do before hand.  Herring gulls are typically monogamous and form life-long pair bonds.  When they arrive at colonies in April the males are busy establishing and defending the best territories for nesting.  Courtship involves a song and dance between males and females with crouching, head-tossing, upright posturing, and calling.  This display sometimes ends with males regurgitating meals for females, often leading to copulation soon after…very romantic!   This feeding by regurgitation is thought to help females replenish body reserves for egg formation.

Us researchers too will be back on Sable Island soon.  Stay tuned for posts about the fieldwork we’ll be doing once the gulls are nesting in May and June.

Rob Ronconi

Halifax, NS

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