We observed Common Murres (Uria aalge) at two breeding sites in lower Cook Inlet, Alaska, to determine whether food availability was reflected in their time-budgets at each colony. Catches of forage fish in nets and relative biomass were greater around a murre colony that has been increasing for the past 25 years than around a colony that has been decreasing over the same time period. Murres spent much more time 'loafing' on their breeding ledges at the increasing colony, particularly during the incubation period and during evening hours. However, there was little or no difference between colonies in chick feeding rates, chick growth rates, or productivity. It appears that murres at the declining colony devote more time to foraging and have less discretionary time ashore. Because this had little apparent affect on their ability to feed and rear chicks, the population decline must be due to other factors. In any case, attendance time-budgets provide a more sensitive index of food availability than other breeding parameters at murre colonies.
Additional publication details
Time-budgets of Common Murres at a declining and increasing colony in Alaska