Los Farallones

Dispatches from Point Blue’s field station on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

A Snapshot of the Ending Seabird Season

Now that August is beginning, most of the chicks on Southeast Farallon are grown and fledging. Field work is winding down, and it is with mixed feelings that we say goodbye to the birds we have watched and worked with from egg to fledge.

July sunset on Southeast Farallon

Where are they bound? Most of the Western Gulls (Larus occidentalis) that fledge from Southeast Farallon will remain along the coast of California, not far from the island itself. They have the potential for a long life ahead of them, the oldest known Western Gull reaching 34 years of age. The oldest breeding bird we have recorded was the bird who holds the 34 year record, banded in 1973.
Western Gull standing over eggs in the early season

Later season Western Gull chicks taking refuge in a cinder block

The recently banded Brandt’s Cormorants (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) chicks will distribute along the Californian coast, feeding on fish and squid.
Displaying male Brandt’s Cormorant in the early season

Cormorant chick banding at the Corm Blind, West End in the background

Nearly ready to fledge Brandt’s Cormorant chicks, sporting new bands

The Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) chicks are getting ready to fledge, a handful having already departed. These birds are also long lived, the oldest known breeding bird recorded  on the island just this season at 28 years old, banded as an adult in 1989. They will leave their burrows and boxes and spend the winter at a location not yet known by their human neighbors, returning when they are ready to once again make their way back to the Farallones.
Rhinoceros Auklet chick in the hand

Last of all to fledge are the remaining Point Blue summer season interns.
Interns    Interns 2
Best of luck to them all, to whatever corners of the map they are bound.
-Nina Duggan (Point Blue Intern)