Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mate Switch?

Well I have to say that the birds are showing all the signs of laying very soon. As I have read your observations and viewed the birds’ behavior, I believe that there is a possibility that there has been a mate switch. I would be interested to see any analysis you might able to do comparing images from the female this year compared to last year. In loons where we have banded most of the birds in a population, we have found much to our surprise that the birds switch mates much more often than we had suspected.

A couple of behaviors indicate that there may be a change. They are now three weeks later than the previously two years, and the birds’ pattern of nest attendance is different. The birds appear to be "figuring" out their way through the nesting process, whereas in the prior two years they were extremely efficient. Finally, after a nest failure (last year), nest switches are common.

I will be interested if you are able to do a comparison.

Keep up your amazing observations. What a great group of biologist you all are.

Wing Goodale
BioDiversity Research Institute

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Probably No Eggs Yet

The bird's behavior suggests that they have not laid an egg yet and are still "practicing." However, the amount of time they have been spending on the nest is a very good sign that they may lay very soon. Since the temperature is generally below freezing this time of year, an egg would not survive long without being incubated. We have observed that loons will leave the first laid egg unattended or the first 24 hours, but that is in May when the temperature is above freezing.

Once there is an egg, the birds will be on the nest at all times and you should see them stand up and rotate the egg every hour or so.

Please keep up your excellent observations.

Wing Goodale
BioDiversity Research Institute

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Possible Egg Laying

Greetings all!

Just got back from dinner and was pleased to see all your comments. If the female stays on the nest through the night and there are quick nest exchanges in the morning, then this would be a good sign that they have laid an egg. 

We may also be seeing the birds still "practicing," but I believe this is the first time that we have seen the bird on the nest at night this season.

If any of you are in other time zones and can check in through the night, please post comments if the bird is still on the nest.

From what we learned last year, egg laying should be expressed in the female rocking back and forth in the nest.

We will know for sure that they have laid an egg when the nest is occupied 24/7.

I look forward to reading your comments.

Wing Goodale
BioDiversity Research Institute  

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Quick Update

Thank you for all of your observations. There is still a very good signs that the birds will nest and there is still plenty of time for the birds to nest.

The time lapse shot seems to be down, I am away from work but I will try to work remotely with our internet service provider to see if they can fix the problem.

Wing Goodale
BioDiversity Research Institute

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Unprecedented Study Finds Over 100 Contaminants in Maine Birds

GORHAM, Maine, March 11, 2007—BioDiversity Research Institute today released a new report documenting that over 100 harmful contaminants were found in Maine bird eggs. Wing Goodale will present the report to the Maine Legislature’s Committee on Natural Resources today at 1 p.m.

Flame retardants (PBDEs), industrial stain and water repellants (PFCs), transformer coolants (PCBs), pesticides (OCs), and mercury were found in all 23 species of birds tested. The bird species studied live in a variety of habitats: on Maine’s ocean, salt marshes, rivers, lakes and uplands.

“This is the most extensive study of its kind to date and the first time industrial stain and water repellants were discovered in Maine birds,” says report author senior research biologist Wing Goodale.

Common loon, Atlantic puffin, piping plover, belted kingfisher, great black-backed gull, peregrine falcon and bald eagle had the highest contaminant levels. The flame retardant deca-BDE, banned last year in Maine, was found in eight species. Overall, eagles carried the greatest contaminant load, and for many contaminants had levels multiple times higher than other species. Many of the contaminants levels recorded were above those documented to have adverse effects.

“These results are significant because many of these contaminants can interact to create effects more harmful than one toxic pollutant alone,” said Goodale, “and the pervasiveness of the pollutants strongly suggests that birds and wildlife in other states are also accumulating these contaminants.”

“Since we found that birds with high levels of one contaminant tended to have high levels of other contaminants, these compounds may cause top predators, such as bald eagles and peregrine falcons, to have greater difficulty hunting and caring for young,” Goodale added.

The report also shows the contaminants are coming from both global and local sources. All the types of contaminants were found in all species—including birds that feed hundreds of miles offshore. This indicates that the pollutants are most likely in rain and snow. Birds in mid-coast and southern Maine tended to have higher levels, suggesting the compounds may also come from local sources such as incinerators and water treatment facilities.

“There is good news,” Goodale said. “We found that banned chemicals like PCBs and DDT were significantly lower in Maine today than in the past, showing that by banning chemicals we can decrease levels of harmful contaminants in the environment.”

Samples were collected from the following towns: Biddeford, Boothbay, Bridgton, Bucksport, Chester, Criehaven TWP, Dead River TWP, Deer Isle, Eastport, Falmouth, Gorham, Islesboro, Kennebunk, Kittery, Lincoln TWP, Lincolnville, Milbridge, Mount Desert Island, North Haven, Old Orchard Beach, Phippsburg, Portland, Saco, Scarborough, Searsmont, South Portland, Spalding TWR, T3 Indian Purchase, Wells, and Westbrook.

BioDiversity Research Institute is a nonprofit ecological research group dedicated to progressive environmental study and education that furthers global sustainability and conservation policies. The organization believes that wildlife serve as important indicators of ecological integrity.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Look for "practice incubation"

Greetings all! 

Thank you for your fantastic observations. As the birds move towards egg laying they will spend more and more time sitting in the nest getting ready for egg laying. The tell tale sign that an egg has been laid is when one of the birds spends the entire night on the nest. 

Although they have nested consistently during the first week of March the last two years, they could be a number of weeks later this year. Birds are fairly consistent in there nesting timing, but many factors such as weather will influence their timing.

Keep up all your great comments.

Wing Goodale
BioDiversity Research Institute