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Friday, June 18th
I guess that a few Herring Gulls shouldn't be unexpected on a BBS route that is near Lake Superior, but a cloud of 125? Until stop 46, I had tallied 17, with 12 of them walking the greens on the Ontonagon Golf Course. Suddenly the sky was filled with a swirling mass of gulls, and I then realized that the road ahead of me was the entrance into the sanitary landfill. Obviously, this highly engineered landfill was not present when the route was last surveyed 20 years ago and did not serve the local gulls with some choice morsels of food.
I think that most birders in the Upper Midwest would probably include gulls if they were queried about what 5 bird species have increased significantly in the past several years. I'm sure this would be a top "guess" from those living along the western shore of Lake Michigan. What is happening to our Ring-billed and Herring Gull populations in the Great Lakes region? Attendees at this spring's gull management conference in Milwaukee, hosted by the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, We Energies, and the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, heard firsthand from Dr. Francie Cuthbert from the Univ. of Minnesota about her periodic surveys of colonially nesting birds in this region. Needless to say, they are increasing! More and larger landfills are one reason, but trying to document all the reasons is not easy. However, it's obvious that many reasons are related to changes that WE are making to our landscape. We are creating conditions that favor these 2 species.
If you would like to see more about this conference, please visit http://www.wisconsinbirds.org/gull.htm.
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