Friday, April 16, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Odds, ends... (WE'RE BACK!)

Our snowy egrets have nests and they've laid eggs.

Canada goslings have hatched! While we're thrilled to behold these little balls of pure cuteness, there's really more tragedy to be had here than anything else. Canada goslings are a very popular food item on Alcatraz and the large, lumbering geese do not effectively protect their young from predation at the beaks of opportunistic gulls and ravens.

Cute while they last

A dead adult goose was found resting atop the rocky cliffs on the west side of the island.

Although we haven't seen them, the rangers tell us that there are now ducklings on the island! We'll be keeping our eyes peeled and our cameras ready.

We've been seeing many pigeon guillemots. The habits of these birds are beyond cryptic and are best left for educated experts to interpret, especially insofar as we go long stretches of time without seeing one, and then all of a sudden, wow, there's a hundred guillemots.

Arguably, the big news on the island is that the park's natural resources arm has elected to destroy most of the intricate stick nesting structures belonging to our pair of common ravens. Last Friday, the deed was done.

The only nesting structure left unharmed had freshly laid ravens' eggs inside. These eggs are soon to be oiled, a process that will prevent them from hatching.

The park service does this to benefit the other birds on the island. The ravens are deadly predators and doubly so when they have three or four extra mouths to feed. The folks at natural resources reason that taking these steps will allow a few extra black crowned night heron fledglings to survive into adulthood.

Though we're admitted amateurs, we intend to examine the raven management policies in the coming days.

These American crows had been inseparable, but recently we've been seeing just one.

Perhaps the other is incubating.

More soon to come.

PostHeaderIcon Bird Census: California Gull

Likes: birds, fish, trash, the delicious eggs and young of endangered least terns and snowy plovers, the protection afforded by nesting colonially, being holy to mormons, etc.

Dislikes: Occasional predation by peregrine falcons and other birds of prey. Like all gulls, these have a suspicion and revulsion of all other birds that frequently results in violence. Other than that, they're pretty easy going.

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