From 1965 -- 1972 Bird Island in Marion, MA, and Ram Island in
Mattapoisett, MA., and 1994- 1997 on Ram Island, Mattapoisett, MA., I
banded Common and Roseate Terns. In the case of Ram Island I was there
when Gulls took over the island and the bulk of the tern colony
abandoned the island. The MA Fish and Wildlife decided to deal with the
problem of an over abundance of gulls by reclaiming Ram Island. They
started that process in 1990-91. Tern started to resettle in 1993-94.
Bird Island is the largest Roseate Tern Colony along the Atlantic shore
and Ram Island used to be second to Bird and in some years surpassing
it. However, Ram Island ceased to become a tern colony for either
Common or Roseate Terns due to Gull nesting and predation as well as an
influx of Double-crested Cormorants.
Since both Herring and Ring-billed Gulls start to nest before terns
arrive they (Gulls) are natural predators of Tern chicks. If they
(gulls) are over abundant then terns are in serious jeopardy.
Will a reduction in landfill spoils, dumps etc., help to diminish
Gulls? Good question. But, until that happens there has to be some
form of management IF we want, or feel it is ecologically important to
have Caspian Terns nesting in an area that has been taken over by gulls.
Cormorants on the other hand tend to leave an area they have nested
UNINHABITAL for terns.
It seems to me that if the history of Young Island has been a nesting
site for Caspian Terns, and gulls and cormorants have taken it over due
to man's waste management, than we should find a way to bring back
One should not forget that there are other natural predators of tern
chicks besides gulls, such as Great Horned Owls. Adding Gulls to this
smorgasbord of tern chicks makes it extremely difficult for terns to be
Why would we plant trees on an island that was once a Tern colony?
I agree there needs to be more public information on this issue.
Elizabeth Alton wrote:
> Thank you for informing us about this topic. I certainly agree with Dave &
> Scott and hope that the management of Young Island would include minimal
> disturbance on the island in order to allow the Caspian Terns to continue their
> breeding attempts. Not knowing a lot about nesting habitat management, I wonder if
> those of you that do know might be able to educate us a little more about how
> spp like gulls and cormorants co-exist with terns. I am aware that on Young
> Island the cormorant population has been almost eliminated and that the
> Ring-billed Gulls are at far lower numbers now that landfills are closed. Perhaps
> these lower numbers would allow the gulls to nest along with the terns. I am sure
> that human disturbances on the island, such as shooting gulls and planting
> trees, could be a big disturbance to the Caspian Terns.
> I for one, would appreciate more information about all this. And if there is
> a way the public could have a say about the Island's management policies, I
> would be interested in knowing how to go about that as well.
> Liz Alton, Georgia, VT
> In a message dated 5/15/08 5:39:18 PM, [log in to unmask] writes:
>> Dave and fellow birders,
>> That's fascinating that Caspian Terns may be starting to breed on Young
>> Island in Lake Champlain. This sighting underscores the role of Young Island
>> as one of the foremost nesting islands in Vermont for waterbirds -- it's
>> been designated only one of 21 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in the state on
>> that basis. So I was surprised to learn that the Vermont Department of Fish
>> and Wildlife has recently developed a plan to substantially reduce waterbird
>> populations on the island by egg oiling and shooting, as alluded to in
>> Dave's message. Apparently the objective is to grow trees on the island.
>> While trees have the potential to benefit nesting birds like herons,
>> destroying thousands of gull nests and shooting adults seems to be a drastic
>> reaction that hasn't been well thought-through. Are many other birders aware
>> of these activities? If enough people in the birding community share
>> concerns about this, perhaps we can persuade the state to pursue more
>> reasonable alternatives.
>> Scott Schwenk
>> [log in to unmask]
>> South Burlington
>> On Wed, May 14, 2008 at 11:41 AM, David Capen <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> Caspian terns have been frequenting Young Island, in Grand Isle, recently.
>>> On Monday, I watched from a blind on the island as a pair courted and
>>> making a nest scrape. Caspians nested on Young Island initially in 2000,
>>> but have not been observed on a nest since 2003. Let's hope the repeated
>>> disturbances from the Fish and Wildlife Department's management of
>>> cormorants and gulls, and their planting of trees on the island, don't
>>> disrupt nesting by this species.
> Wondering what's for Dinner Tonight? Get new twists on family
> favorites at AOL Food.