V. Koos, O. Bailey, M. Maloney
Well, things are beginning to wind down here on the Falkner Island tern colony. The birds are no longer being aggressive towards us as we go about our business, indicating that the breeding season is drawing to a close. While it is a refreshing change of pace, we will have fond memories of being frantically dive-bombed and defecated upon by protective parent terns.
What a great season we had this year! Most of the chicks have successfully fledged by now although they are still largely dependent on their parents for food. All in all this season we identified 37 roseate nests and had a total of 38 chicks hatch. Olivia was even lucky enough to witness a roseate chick emerge from its egg, and she got it on video! It seems that the roseate terns have gotten a head start on migrating. A couple of weeks ago we were regularly seeing banded roseate fledglings, but recently we have not seen a single one.
Terns were not the only birds breeding out on Falkner this season. Barn swallows, red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows, willets, black ducks, mallards, and herring gulls all found Falkner Island to be a suitable place to breed and raise their young.
Soon all the birds will be departing for more favorable conditions south. We wish them all luck. The Falkner crew
will also be leaving the island soon. Max will be heading back to school for his senior year. Olivia will be traveling to Tern Island in Hawaii to study albatrosses, and Victor will be going to Australia to assist with research on the Superb Fairy-wrens.
Overall we had an amazing summer on Falkner! We would especially like to thank the Faulkner Island Light Brigade for the wireless internet, it was essential in keeping the Falkner Fever at bay. Finally, we’d like to thank Kris Vagos and the rest of the staff at Stewart B. McKinney NWR for making this experience possible. It was a summer that we will all never forget.
Photos courtesty of Victor Koos (FI Crew Member)