New bird tracking study lifts off this year

Grad student banding chicks
Acadia grad student Ingrid Pollet bands a chick.

Researchers at Acadia University are leading a new study to mark and track birds from Sable Island, with support from Encana and the Canadian Wildlife Service.

In the study, more than 50 gulls were marked with coloured leg and wing bands over the summer of 2011. The bands will assist in monitoring the local and long distance movements of the gulls, thus improving scientific understanding of the year round movements of these birds.

Each gull has a unique three letter code, such as “AAZ”. Herring gulls were marked with pink wing and leg bands (See Fig 2) and Great Black-backed Gull chicks were marked with bright green leg bands. More birds will be marked in 2012, including green wing bands on adult Great Black-backed Gulls.

Already, offshore supply vessels working around Deep Panuke have re-sighted five of the pink-tagged Herring Gulls. And in August, a young banded gull from Sable Island was re-sighted more than 800 km away on Appledore Island off the coast of Southern Maine. Researchers know that gulls from other parts of Canada migrate as far south as the Gulf of Mexico, however, the over wintering range of Sable Island gulls is not known.

A blog has been developed for the public to report a banded gull and to learn more about the study. To follow the blog, please visit

The researchers also will be contacting local birding societies in Eastern Canada and the United States to explain the study and the online reporting tool for sightings.

Encana is supporting the research through the Deep Panuke Education & Training and Research & Development Fund, to assist in the development of the offshore oil and gas industry in Nova Scotia. The bird tracking study is part of a larger research project that also will use radar and other tracking devices to study bird interactions with offshore platforms in Nova Scotia.


From Deep Panuke Project Newsletter, September 2011

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