Both members of seabird pairs are normally required to fledge young. Seabirds that nest in sites accessible to predators usually have one parent in attendance during the egg/chick phase. Time devoted to foraging can vary with individual skill and age, prey availability and abundance (Seamy 1978), and distance to foraging grounds (Safina 1990). Although average skill of similar-aged individuals should not vary from colony to colony (Ryder 1980), prey availability and abundance, and spatial distribution of foraging grounds may vary. Thus, the percent of time both members of a pair are present at the nest site may vary in different colonies. In this paper, we examine parental behavior in response to trapping in Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) nesting in three of the six major colonies in the northeastern United States: Cedar Beach, New York, Falkner Island, Connecticut; and Bird Island, Massachusetts. Roseate Terns were listed on the United States? Endangered Species List in 1987. We were interested in differences among colonies in how often both parents were present, how soon a mate returned to the nest if one parent was temporarily removed, how soon a trapped bird returned to the nest after release, and the time during which the nest was left unguarded. We feel it is important to recognize and make management decisions based on colony differences where they exist. Our study follows directly from earlier work at Cedar Beach on trapping vulnerability of Common Terns (Sterna hirundo) and Roseate Terns. Nisbet reported that Roseate Terns at Bird Island required about three hours to return to the nest after trapping.
Additional publication details
Colony differences in response to trapping in roseate terns