Volume 50, No. 2

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Nocturnal flight activity by Northern Gannets Morus bassanus in response to predator presence




D'ENTREMONT, K.J.N. & MONTEVECCHI, W.A. 2022. Nocturnal flight activity by Northern Gannets Morus bassanus in response to predator presence. Marine Ornithology 50: 159 - 163

Received 14 February 2022, accepted 30 May 2022

Date Published: 2022/10/15
Date Online: 2022/09/22
Key words: Northern Gannet, Morus bassanus, nocturnal flight activity, predation, coyotes


The Northern Gannet Morus bassanus typically flies only during the day, with minimal flight activity following civil twilight. Here we document nocturnal flight activity by Northern Gannets in response to predation risk by Eastern coyotes Canis latrans. Eight parental gannets were fitted with GPS/time-depth recorders on 15 July 2021 at mainland nest sites at Cape St. Mary's, Newfoundland, Canada. Previously, among 506 foraging trips in 2019 and 2020 that were investigated using biologging, only two were initiated at night, suggesting nocturnal departures for foraging are very rare at this colony. Then, however, killings of chicks by coyotes occurred within our study plot on 24 July 2021. From 24 July to 20 August 2021, we recorded 51 instances of nocturnal departures from the colony during which individuals rested on the water overnight and returned to the colony by the following morning without foraging, which we deem to be a response to predator disturbance. The predation and nocturnal anti-predator flight behaviour recorded in this study is indicative of the risks associated with mainland nesting by colonial seabirds.


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