Gull nests research in Maine, USA


This December 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

The Shoals Marine Laboratory is a summer field station for marine science research and education. Jointly operated by Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire, Shoals provides hands-on learning opportunities and laboratory facilities on Appledore Island, Isles of Shoals in the Gulf of Maine.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, December 2019:

From 2010 until 2016, Cornell University students diligently collected nesting data on two species of gulls at the Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore Island off the coast of Maine. Recently this large data set has come home to roost in our NestWatch database via a generous bulk-upload contribution from Dr. David Bonter including 1,564 nest records consisting of 49,284 detailed nest checks! Read our latest blog post for more on the team’s efforts.

We accept large data sets year-round of any species, including those not in nest boxes. Contact us if you have nesting data that you’d like to permanently archive with NestWatch.

The two species studied are Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls.

Wildlife webcams worldwide


This live stream webcam from the USA says about itself:

Watch The Puffin Loafing Ledge – LIVE.

Atlantic Puffins spend most of their time at sea — coming to land each spring to breed in colonies on northern coastal islands, like Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge in Maine, home to the puffins visible on our live “loafing ledge” cam. While puffins, with their colorful bills, are the stars of the loafing ledge, lucky viewers may also catch a glimpse of three other striking black and white seabirds. Razorbills are taller than puffins with a flat, black beak. And watch for Black Guillemots, jaunty seabirds with black bodies and white shoulders – they have bright red feet and mouth lining. Common Murres may show up on the ledge, too; identify them by their distinctive pointed beak. You may also see Audubon Project Puffin interns who are spending the summer studying and protecting puffins and other species.

The Seal Island Audubon Live cams are located 20 miles off of Rockland, Maine. Transporting the video image from the island to the Internet is a complex process that involves beaming the signal 26 miles from Seal Island to a radio tower above Rockland. The signal is then relayed an additional 2.5 miles to the top of the Tradewinds Motor Inn in Rockland, where a rooftop dish transfers the video signal to a cable that runs into Project Puffin Visitor Center, from there it is relayed to the Internet. The video stream is occasionally affected by factors such as changes in tide, reflection off the sea surface and dense fog. During these times the images may be lost. If this happens, stay tuned and the signal will be restored quickly.

Other wildlife webcams:

Explore Main Channel
Explore Africa
Explore Bears
Explore Birds
Explore Oceans

This live stream webcam video from Bermuda says about itself:

The CahowCam is a collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Nonsuch Expeditions. You can watch the cam live here, and learn more about Nonsuch Island‘s environs (including the cahow) here.

We’re excited to share a brand new live viewing experience featuring the critically endangered Bermuda Cahow, a kind of gadfly petrel that nests nowhere in the world except rocky islets off the coast of Bermuda. In the early 1600s, this once-numerous seabird was thought to have gone extinct, driven out of existence by the invasive animals and habitat changes associated with the settlement of the island. In 1951, after nearly 300 years, a single bird was rediscovered, and since then the species has been part of a government-led conservation effort to revive the species.

Much of this conservation work by the Bermuda Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has centered on the creation of manmade burrows to increase nesting habitat, and to create new colonies on larger islands that are more robust to the increasing threats of hurricanes. The Cornell Lab entered into a partnership with the innovative Nonsuch Expeditions, a multimedia and outreach effort centered on Nonsuch Island that is committed to raising awareness and conserving the unique animals and environments on and around Bermuda. They have successfully broadcasted from a cahow burrow in past years, and this year we are working together to create an experience that will blend both live footage from a new camera as well as interaction with DENR Senior Terrestrial Conservation Officer Jeremy Madeiros during his weekly nest checks throughout the nesting season.

This on-camera pair has been together since 2009, using this same burrow each of those years, and has fledged successfully for the last three years. During the nesting season, the cahows only visit and court under the cover of night, then head out to sea during daylight hours. The pair returned to the island in mid-November to court and mate, then disappeared out to sea for the month of December. On January 11, the female returned, and within an hour or so of arriving she laid a single egg that will be the singular focus of the pair’s efforts for the next 5-6 months. The male and female will share incubation duties, and hatch won’t be for another 52-55 days—likely around the end of the first week of March.

You can follow updates and ask questions via the cahow cam’s Twitter feed — we look forward to learning about this cryptic species alongside you.

The Kauai Laysan Albatross Cam from Hawaii is here.

This live stream webcam video says about itself:

Watch The Bison Calving: Grasslands National Park Cam – LIVE.

Bison are the largest indigenous land mammal in North America. Considered a keystone species, these wooly herbivores helped shaped the ecology of the Great Plains today. Though 80% of Canada’s native prairie has been lost, Grasslands National Park represents the most intact example of what remains with a flourishing herd of nearly 200 bison that freely roam their native prairie.

Grasslands National Park preserves a mixed-grass ecosystem of over 70 different species of grass and over 50 different species of wildflowers. Grasslands is the only place in Canada where you can see the Black-tailed Prairie Dog and the Black-footed Ferret and Eastern Yellow-bellied Racers in their native habitat.

In the Netherlands, the 2017 Beleef de Lente webcams of nesting birds will start on 7 March at 8PM local time. There will be webcams for white storks, little owls, barn owls, tawny owls, peregrine falcons, kingfishers, and great tits; and, this year for the first time, grey herons and swifts.

Gray seals in Maine, USA webcam


This video from Maine in the USA is called Gray Seal Pup’s First Swim.

From eNature in the USA:

Don’t Miss The Gray Seal Pup Webcam

Every winter hundreds of gray seals clamber onto Maine’s Seal Island for an extraordinary mass breeding event.

The 300 lb females have one pup per year, with births peaking in mid January. At birth, pups are in a suit of thick, white fur which they begin molting at about three weeks of age.

The webcam is here.

Using research drones, thermal cameras and free images from Google Earth, two studies confirm that gray seals are making a comeback off the New England and eastern Canadian coasts. The findings help confirm that seal conservation efforts are working, and that these remote eye-in-the sky technologies make it easier and safer for scientists to study migratory wildlife in remote locations and estimate their numbers accurately: here.

Warbler birds in Maine, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Black-throated green warblers are a very common breeding species in Maine. They can be found in a variety of habitat but prefer mixed deciduous forests. Their buzzy song is often one of the first warbler songs I hear in the spring. © 2012 Garth McElroy.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

The Changing Cast of Maine‘s Famous Spruce-Woods Warblers

The magical songs of warblers have echoed through the Maine woods for millennia. In the 1950s, noted ecologist Robert MacArthur made these warblers famous by studying how different species can live together by using different foraging areas within the same tree. Now, 60 years later, a researcher revisits the spot to see what has changed and what has stayed the same. Read the story and listen to the calls.

BE RIGHT BACK, ROAD-TRIPPING TO THE NEW NATIONAL PARK The tens of thousands of acres of Maine forest previously owned by one of the co-founders of Burt’s Bees are now federally protected — just in time for the 100-year celebration of the National Park Service today. [Hilary Hanson, HuffPost]

Bernie Sanders landslide victory in Maine, media ignore it


This video from the USA says about itself:

Media Ignores Bernie Sanders Maine Blowout

6 March 2016

Bernie Sanders won the state of Maine by about 30 points. Has the media talked about it? Nope. Cenk Uygur, Jimmy Dore (The Jimmy Dore Show), and Wes Clark Jr., hosts of The Young Turks, discuss.

Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the frontrunners for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations, suffered unexpected setbacks in state primaries and caucuses held Saturday and Sunday. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won three of the four Democratic contests, while Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio won three of the five Republican contests. Even in the two states Trump won, his vote was significantly below poll predictions, indicating that an anti-Trump campaign by Republican Party leaders was having some effect. All three contests won by Sanders were caucuses where attendance broke previous records. He won in Kansas by 68 percent to 32 percent, in Nebraska by 57 percent to 43 percent and in Maine by a nearly two-to-one margin: here.

The Hillary Clinton emails: A record of imperialist crimes: here.

As Clinton Equivocates on Fracking, Sanders Has One Answer: ‘No’: here.

Good shortnose sturgeon news from Maine, USA


After measurement and implantation of a small tagging device, UMaine graduate student Lisa Izzo releases a shortnose sturgeon back into the Penobscot River. Credit: Gayle Zydlewski

From the University of Maine in the USA:

After more than a century, endangered shortnose sturgeon find historic habitat post dam removal

November 17, 2015

Endangered shortnose sturgeon have rediscovered habitat in the Penobscot River that had been inaccessible to the species for more than 100 years prior to the removal of the Veazie Dam in 2013.

University of Maine researchers confirmed evidence that three female shortnose sturgeon were in the area between Veazie and Orono in mid-October. Researchers had previously implanted the sturgeon with small sound-emitting devices known as acoustic tags to see if they would use the newly accessible parts of the river.

Among the most primitive fish to inhabit the Penobscot, sturgeon are often called “living fossils” because they remain similar to their earliest fossil forms. Their long lives—more than 50 years—and bony-plated bodies also make them unique.

Historically, shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic sturgeon, a related species also present in the watershed, had spawning populations in the Penobscot River as far upstream as the site of the current Milford dam, and provided an important food and trade source to native peoples and early European settlers. Overharvest and loss of suitable habitat due to dams and pollution led to declines in shortnose sturgeon populations and a listing as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1967. In 2012, Gulf of Maine populations of Atlantic sturgeon were listed as threatened under the ESA.

Today, a network of sound receivers, which sit on the river bottom along the lower river from Penobscot Bay up to the Milford Dam, detect movement and location of tagged fish.

According to Gayle Zydlewski, an associate professor at UMaine‘s School of Marine Sciences, the three individual fish observed were females. The fish have since been tracked joining other individuals in an area identified as wintering habitat near Brewer. Wintering habitat in other rivers is known to be staging habitat for spawning the following spring.

“We know that shortnose sturgeon use the Penobscot River throughout the year, and habitat models indicate suitable habitat for spawning in the area of recent detection upriver of Veazie, although actual spawning has not yet been observed,” Zydlewski says.

Since 2006, Zydlewski has been working with Michael Kinnison, a professor in UMaine’s School of Biology and Ecology; and multiple graduate students, including Catherine Johnston, to better understand the sturgeon populations of the Penobscot River and Gulf of Maine.

Johnston, who has been tagging and tracking sturgeon in the Penobscot for two years to study the implications of newly available habitat to shortnose sturgeon, discovered the detections of sturgeon upstream of the Veazie dam remnants. Each new bit of information adds to the current understanding of behavior and habitat preferences of the fish.

“We’re very excited to see sturgeon moving upstream of where the Veazie Dam once stood, and into their former habitats,” says Kim Damon-Randall, assistant regional administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Protected Resources Division. “We need to do more research to see how they’re using it, but it’s a tremendous step in the right direction.”

Habitat access is essential for the recovery of these species. The removal of the Veazie Dam is only a portion of the Penobscot River Restoration Project, which, when combined with the removal of Great Works Dam in 2012, restores 100 percent of historic sturgeon habitat in the Penobscot. In addition to dam removals, construction of a nature-like fish bypass at the Howland Dam in 2015 significantly improves habitat access for the remaining nine species of sea-run fish native to the Penobscot, including Atlantic salmon and river herring.

“Scientific research and monitoring of this monumental restoration effort has been ongoing for the past decade,” says Molly Payne Wynne, monitoring coordinator for the Penobscot River Restoration Trust. “The collaborative body of research on this project is among the most comprehensive when compared to other river restoration projects across the country.”

NOAA Fisheries is an active partner and provides funding for this long-term monitoring collaboration that includes the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, The Nature Conservancy and others. These efforts are beginning to shed light on the response of the river to the restoration project. Restoration of the full assemblage of sea-run fish to the Penobscot River will revive not only native fisheries but social, cultural and economic traditions of Maine’s largest river.

Explore further: Endangered shortnose sturgeon saved in Hudson River

See also here.

Endangered sturgeon at center of Jamestown battle over power lines: here.

Good piping plover news from Maine, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Newborn Baby Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus), Running on Barrier Beach Time-lapse (x0.3), Mass Audubon Allens Pond, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Monday evening, June 16, 2014, 6:46 PM – 00009; 53 sec.

From the Portland Press Herald in the USA:

August 13 2015

Maine piping plovers on track for best nesting season in more than 30 years

The 115 plover chicks are the most fledged on state beaches since record keeping began in 1981, and signal that protection efforts are paying off, biologists say.

By Kevin Miller, Staff Writer

Maine is on track to have the biggest flock of piping plover chicks in more than 30 years, buoying hopes for the tiny, federally protected shorebirds whose nesting habits coincide with the peak season for human beachgoers.

At least 115 piping plover chicks have fledged – developed enough to fly – so far this summer on Maine beaches, up from 97 chicks last year and the most since record keeping began in 1981. While some of those birds remain vulnerable because they are not yet strong fliers, the figures suggest that Maine’s collaborative management and monitoring system involving government agencies and large teams of volunteers is producing results.

“We still have a few more chicks on the beach, but we have hit 115 so that is great news because that is a lot of birds,” said Laura Minich Zitske, director of Maine Audubon’s piping plover and least tern project.

TENSIONS, COOPERATION

Once found throughout the Atlantic coastline, piping plovers are shore birds that measure just 7 inches long and weigh a mere 2 ounces as adults. Today the birds are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act and “endangered” in Maine because of a combination of habitat loss, past human hunting and predation from other animals. But because they nest and breed on sandy beaches from spring through late-summer, plovers have become a flash point of tensions over beach restrictions.

A debate raged in Scarborough in 2013 and 2014, for example, when the federal government required the town to strengthen plover protections after one of the chicks was killed by an unleashed dog. But such flare-ups are relatively uncommon in Maine. And both Zitske and shorebird biologist Lindsay Tudor with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife credited the recent plover success to the collaborative relationship between their agencies, coastal towns and volunteer monitoring groups.

“We all work together and have put together this strong partnership,” said Tudor, later adding: “We would not have these birds without the local stewardship.”

Roughly 2,000 piping plover pairs nest on beaches from North Carolina to Newfoundland. The tiny birds can be spotted skittering at the ocean’s edge or on mudflats searching for worms, bugs and other invertebrates. When they aren’t foraging, plovers can be found nesting in the transition area between dunes and the sandy beach. Plover chicks are so small they are often described as cottonballs walking on toothpick legs.

In 2005, just 27 chicks fledged on Maine beaches after nests and birds were wiped out by a combination of stormy weather and increased predation. While the numbers fluctuate year to year, the trend in Maine has shown consistent growth since then. In 2013, Maine recorded 44 nesting pairs that yielded 85 fledglings followed by 50 pairs and 97 fledglings in 2014.

MONITORING, OUTREACH, PRIDE

Maine Audubon works closely with the state wildlife department and towns from Ogunquit to Georgetown to monitor the beaches for breeding pairs beginning in the spring and then advising the public about the birds’ presence. Nests with eggs are often protected by mesh fencing that allows the birds to skitter in and out of the area while keeping out predators. Volunteers and some paid beach monitors advise beach-goers and dog owners on how to avoid disturbing the sensitive birds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services division also kills raccoons, skunks, foxes and other potential predators in some areas, particularly near plover nests in the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

Old Orchard Beach has proven that birds and people can co-exist, even at the height of summer. Seven plover pairs successfully raised a record 16 chicks in Old Orchard from an area north of the pier to Palace Playland.

“I’d like to think our outreach efforts are really paying off because it feels different out there on the beach,” Zitske said. “People care and I think they take pride in seeing the plovers fledge off of their beaches, and there is an amazing network of volunteers out there keeping an eye on the birds.”

Other states appear to be having mixed results this year, according to preliminary assessments provided to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Connecticut reported strong productivity with potentially the highest population since plovers were added to the Endangered Species List, and plovers bred and hatched along the shores of Lake Ontario in New York for the first time in 30 years. Maryland and Delaware reported their nesting seasons had gone OK.

Tudor of the state wildlife department said Maine is currently meeting its federal goal for per-nest productivity but is still short of its goal of having 80 nesting pairs. But Tudor said the nesting-pairs goal could be lowered given the strong fledgling numbers in order to strike a proper balance – or “carrying capacity” – between the birds’ prevalence and people’s use of the beaches.

“You have a biological carrying capacity but you also have a social carrying capacity,” Tudor said. “We want people to be able to enjoy the beach as well. It is something that we need to be sensitive to.”

A new study presents negative associations between anthropogenic disturbance (human recreational use of beaches, coastal modifications) and piping plovers on their non-breeding grounds. Shorebirds are one of the most threatened bird families in the world. This research indicates that there are direct consequences of disturbance: here.

Waxwings in Finland, revisited and ringed


This video from the USA is called Bohemian Waxwings Eating Apples in Maine.

Still 11 March 2015. After the squirrel and the willow tit, still near Oulu in northern Finland.

Back to the parking lot, where we had seen the Bohemian waxwings in the morning.

Bohemian waxwings, one eating two berries, 11 March 2015

They were still feeding on Swedish service tree berries. The second bird from the left on this photo on two berries at once.

Bohemian waxwing and berry, 11 March 2015

Bohemian waxwing ringed, 11 March 2015

Some of the waxwings had been lured by berries to get trapped inside cages. Local ornithologists did that, to be able to ring the birds for studying waxwings’ lives. A ringer came, to provide each individual with a ring around its leg, to weigh it, to measure it, and then to release it.

Many of the birds caught in the cages had already been ringed here earlier. But the ringing has also provided evidence of waxwing migration from Finland to Britain.

Bohemian waxwings ringed, adult and juvenile, 11 March 2015

One could see the difference between adult birds and juvenile birds: an adult (on the left of this photo) has bigger red wing feather tips than a young bird (on the right).

Bohemian waxwing, 11 March 2015

After the last ringed Bohemian waxwing had been freed, we left; to look for more wildlife elsewhere around Oulu.

Swamp sparrows’ songs, new research


This video from the USA says about itself:

Swamp sparrow singing in Maine. By Garth McElroy.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Sparrows Don’t Just Sing Same Old Song

JAN. 12, 2015

A sparrow’s song may sound simple, consisting of little more than whistles and trills. But to the sparrows, those few noises can take on vastly different meanings depending on small variations in context and repetition, researchers have found.

In humans, the ability to extract nearly endless meanings from a finite number of sounds, known as partial phonemic overlapping, was key to the development of language. To see whether sparrows shared this ability, researchers at Duke University recorded and analyzed the songs of more than 200 Pennsylvania swamp sparrows. They found that the sparrows’ whistles could be divided into three lengths: short, intermediate and long.

The researchers then played the sparrows two versions of the songs — the original and a slightly altered one. They found that replacing a single short whistle with an intermediate one, for example, could significantly alter a bird’s reaction, but only if it came at the right moment in the song.

“Identical sounds seemed to belong to a different category depending on the context,” said Robert F. Lachlan, a biologist now with Queen Mary University of London and the lead author of the study.

The findings, which were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are part of a larger effort to better understand how human language evolved. If even birds rely on phonemic overlapping to communicate, Dr. Lachlan said, it could indicate that such features “developed independently of higher aspects of language.”

By faithfully copying the most popular songs, swamp sparrows create time-honored song traditions that can be just as long-lasting as human traditions, finds a new study. The results show that creating traditions that pass the test of time doesn’t necessarily require exceptional smarts: here.

United States herring gulls studied


This video is about Appledore Island in Maine, USA.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Life In A Gull Colony

by Taylor Heaton Crisologo, Cornell University, ’16

My first time in a gull colony was a riot of vocalizing birds and flashes of white wings. However, once the gulls settle, the finer details come into focus. By sound, the chorus of yeow calls and the occasional long call echoing through the colony. By sight, the great expanse of densely-packed nests dotting the nooks and crannies of the rocky terrain. By atmosphere, the sensation when a good breeze blows through and dozens of gulls lift off and hover lightly in the sky.

This scene was not always so lively. In 1900, only about 8,000 Herring Gull pairs were left in the United States due to feather collecting for ladies’ hats and egg collecting by hobbyists. Today, with federal protections in place for all native birds, there are at least 90,000 to 100,000 breeding pairs along the East Coast. The Herring Gulls that I study nest on Appledore Island, a small island off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. There, the colonies offer opportunities for students at the island’s field station, Shoals Marine Lab, to gain experience in field research through summer-long monitoring projects.

Typical Herring Gull nest monitoring is similar to the work enjoyed by other NestWatchers, with some added twists. Information is meticulously collected on nest context, nesting density (the distances between the nearest neighboring nests), and egg sizes. Herring Gull eggs average about 90 grams, or about 50 times the size of a Tree Swallow egg! Once the nesting profile is completed, each nest is monitored from incubation to fledging.

This summer, with the guidance of Dr. David Bonter of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, I investigated the connections among nesting success, shelter availability, and nest defense behavior. To test the importance of nest shelter on reproductive success, I placed artificial chick shelters at sites with little natural cover from predators and the elements. By linking the results of my experiments to the nest success data, I hope to gain further insight into the factors which may be limiting the survival of chicks in this system.

While I’m still analyzing my field data from the summer, one thing is certain: this breeding colony of Herring Gulls provided my first experience in ecology. My weeks spent nest monitoring and collecting data have offered me insight on staying positive, thinking critically and creatively, and rolling with the dive-bombing birds. I’m so grateful to the gulls for providing me with these data to ponder and for helping me start my career as an ornithologist. So thank you, gulls, for being the first birds to take me under your wings.

Interested in watching gull nests for NestWatch? Check out Taylor’s tips for successful gull nest monitoring.