Puking and catching birds (all in the name of science)…

After hopping our way along the Greenland coast for a few weeks, we crossed over to Bylot Island to continue our journey in the Canadian Arctic onboard the Arctic Tern. Being on a sailboat, we usually stay away from vertical walls of endless rocky cliffs where we can’t anchor or find shelter… but this is exactly where our two scientists, Christie and Kieran, were determined to go. And so we went.

After rolling around in the swell, puking over the side and going on a few scoping missions to find a suitable landing spot with the zodiac, we finally made it to shore with all the gear. This was day one of many that would be spent climbing ridges, catching birds and getting pooped on while attaching instruments that would allow the scientists to unveil the intimate secrets of the mysterious foraging behaviour of Thick-Billed Murres. We now know a little bit more about where they go, how often they feed and how far they have to fly to feed their chicks during their short Arctic breeding season…

Fun facts about Thick-Billed Murres:
They spend their lives at sea. They come to land only once a year, to breed. They lay a single egg and incubate it for 4 weeks. Once the egg hatches, both male and female take turns flying up to 100 km to find fish to bring back to feed their chicks. This keeps them busy for 3 weeks. After that period, the chick jumps off the cliffs and falls directly to the ocean where it later molts and grows flight feathers. Adult Thick-Billed Murres can dive down to 200 meters to catch fish.

– Pascale

 IMG_4964_Grant&Pascale IMG_5140_Kieran catching murres IMG_5142_Thick-Billed Murres IMG_5147_Thick-Billed Murres IMG_5179_Cliffs Murres&Kittiwakes IMG_5428_Christie dowloading data IMG_7327_Last year's data loggers IMG_7352_Bird cliffs IMG_7732_Christie&Kieran on cliffs IMG_7762_Foggy Hike IMG_7776_Foggy Hike IMG_7802_Foggy birds

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Published on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014, under Latest News