Nest with a View

September 30, 2015 Posted by: Tania Lewis, Glacier Bay National Park Wildlife Biologist
Gulls perched on a rocky island
Glaucous-winged Gulls nest on some of the most gorgeous places in Glacier Bay.These scenic islands, often miles from the mainland, offer protection from terrestrial predators such as wolves and bears.The remote locations, however, do nothing to deter avian predators such as bald eagles and crows who seem to relish the seasonal raw egg smorgasbord.Gulls, and many other ground-nesting birds, minimize egg predation by nesting in colonies so they can launch group defensive attacks on potential egg eaters, as well as flood the predators with more eggs than they can possibly eat at one time. 
Many of these remote Glacier Bay islands are closed to the public in the summer to protect nesting gulls, terns, kittiwakes, puffins, and more.Researchers access the islands to conduct yearly nest monitoring.These biologists are currently downloading and processing data to calculate the final tallies of nesting birds, nests, and eggs for the season.These numbers will be added to those from previous years to look at trends in populations of ground-nesting birds at different colonies and variability in yearly productivity.This information will be used to make management decisions such as which islands will be closed to human use and which islands may be selected for resuming native gull egg harvest by Huna Tlingit, whose homeland encompasses Glacier Bay.While scientists sit at their computers crunching numbers and calculating their statistics, these birds are now flying towards their wintering grounds, no doubt looking forward to returning next year to their lovely nests with a view in beautiful Glacier Bay. 
Learn more about the Tlingit gull egg harvest in Glacier Bay.

gulls, gull egg harvest, South Marble Island

Last updated: September 30, 2015

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