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Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii)

Falkner Island, CT

1978 - Present

Dr. Jeffrey A. Spendelow

 


Summary of data file

Project number: 3
Species included in study: Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii)
Location of study: Falkner Island, Stewart B. McKinney NWR, CT (41º 13' N 72º 39' W 5km south of Guilford CT)
Time span: 1978 - Present
Number of years: 23
Approximate number of newly banded birds per year: Most birds are banded as chicks and few unbanded adults (~5 per year) are caught 

120 chicks

Approximate number of recaptures/resightings per year: 300
Banding codes associated with data: 3.01 (field-readable bands) 3.69 (some blood taken)
Are data digitally stored: Yes
Data access: With permission from Dr. Jeffrey A. Spendelow
Person(s) who collected the data set: Dr. Jeffrey A. Spendelow
Miscellaneous:
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Background and Motivation

The tern colony at Falkner Island was visited irregularly in the early 1970s by people working in association with Helen Hays of the American Museum of Natural History's Great Gull Island Project. After Fred Sibley and Jeff Spendelow visited the island several times in 1977, they started the Falkner Island Tern Project (FITP) in 1978 and ran it jointly as a Common and Roseate Tern banding project for three years. When Dr. Spendelow became the FITP's sole Director in 1981, he changed the focus of the project to concentrate on Roseate Tern research due to concerns about the declining North Atlantic breeding population of this species after documenting relatively low local return rates of ~ 75% (Spendelow and Nichols 1989). Dr. Sarah W. Richards, President of Little Harbor Laboratory (LHL) in Guilford, ran the project from 1983-1985 when Dr. Spendelow moved to Louisiana to begin work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). After moving back north to work at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) in Laurel, Maryland in 1985, Dr. Spendelow resumed actively directing the FITP fieldwork the following year.

In part due to results of the work on the now endangered Roseate Terns, ownership of Falkner Island was transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the FWS's Division of Refuges in 1985, and the island then became part of what is now called the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Recognizing both the need to build a strong partnership with state and local support, and the need to draw on outside expertise to help manage and conserve the wildlife resources at Falkner Island, in 1986 the Division of Refuges and PWRC developed a Cooperative Agreement between the FWS, the Connecticut Audubon Society (CAS), the Connecticut Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and LHL to provide both financial and logistic support for the FITP. In 1987, the Cooperative Agreement was expanded to include the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Dr. Spendelow became the coordinator of a cooperative long-term study of the population dynamics and ecology of the Roseate Terns breeding in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York as part of his official duties at PWRC, and at the end of the year the entire northeastern breeding population was declared "Endangered" by the FWS.  Since that time studies involving banding have taken place (see publications) and the value of this intensively studied colony has lead to greater understanding of the biology of this endangered species.

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Spatial Information

Location of study area: Falkner Island, CT (41º 13' N 72º 39' W; 5km south of Guilford, CT)
Study area(s) and sampling changes over time: The entire island is searched and all Roseate Tern nests are followed each year.
Map/photo of study area:    Falkner Island       oblique.JPG (57103 bytes)   Artificial Nesting Habitat   tiresNestingSites.gif (88744 bytes)
Habitat change: In the fall of 2000, a rock revetment (similar in function to a retaining wall) was constructed to reduce erosion and protect the lighthouse.  The impacts of revetment construction (wrapping around the north end, then going down 3/4 the length of the eastern side) on the terns is part of an ongoing study.
Comments:
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Temporal Information

Time span: 1978 - Present
Number of years: 23
Missed years: None
Time of year for data collection: Breeding season (May to August)
Coverage of study area: The island is intensively covered every day weather permitting.  Adults are observed or trapped from blinds in the morning, and chick banding takes place in the afternoon.
How often would the study area be sampled?: Daily
Is the study ongoing?: Yes
Comments:
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Operational information

Methods used to catch birds: Chicks caught by hand, adults trapped in treadle traps on the nest
Marking techniques used in addition to a single aluminum band: All birds get incoloy (hard metal) BBL and field-readable (can be read from ~25m with spotting scope) bands.  Adult birds get a 6-band color band combination (2 metal, 4 plastic).  Trapped adults and chicks involved in behavioral studies also get temporarily marked with magic marker. 
  colormark.gif (158652 bytes)
If recaught birds, that had been marked in more than one way, had lost an identifier, was this noted?: Yes (band loss is described in Spendelow et al. 1994)
Were any of these birds experimental birds?: Each year a few abandoned chicks/eggs may be fostered (noted in field notes)

In 1999 radio transmitters were put on 7 adult and 10 fledgling birds.  Five of the seven adults returned in 2000 suggesting no apparent effect on adult survival.  Since 1998, a drop of blood has been taken from each chick and some trapped adults for sexing via DNA analysis.

Comments:
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Associated data

User-defined fields in Band Manager:
Morphometric measures (daily weights of chicks; head length, wing chord, tail length, weight of trapped adults).

Other data:

Additional behavioral observations, pairing behavior, and blood samples have been taken. Reproductive Success of all pairs is recorded.  
Comments:
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Publications and other available information

Publications and Theses:

Spendelow, J.A. 1982. An analysis of temporal variation in, and the effects of habitat modification on, the reproductive success of Roseate Terns. Colonial Waterbirds 5:19-31.

Spendelow, J.A. 1983. Connecticut. Pages 95-96 in: S.W. Kress, E.H. Weinstein, and I.C.T. Nisbet, editors. Status of tern populations in northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. Colonial Waterbirds 6:84-106.

Richards, S.W., and W.A. Schew. 1989. Species composition of food brought to Roseate Tern chicks on Falkner Island, Connecticut in summer 1984. Connecticut Warbler 9:1-5.

Schew, W.A., and S.W. Richards. 1989. Roseate Tern behavior in modified nest sites on Falkner Island, Connecticut. Connecticut Geological Natural History Survey Natural History Notes 3:1-4.

Spendelow, J.A., and J.D. Nichols. 1989. Annual survival rates of breeding adult Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii). Auk 106:367-374.

Nichols, J.D., J.A. Spendelow, and J.E. Hines. 1990. Capture-recapture estimation of prebreeding survival rate for birds exhibiting delayed maturation. Journal of Field Ornithology 61:347-354.

Spendelow, J.A. 1991. Postfledging survival and recruitment of known-origin Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) at Falkner Island, Connecticut. Colonial Waterbirds 14:108-115.

Spendelow, J.A. 1994a. Roseate Tern. Pages 148-149 in L.R. Bevier, editor. The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Connecticut. Connecticut Geological and Natural History Survey Bulletin 113.

Spendelow, J.A., J. Burger, I.C.T. Nisbet, J.D. Nichols, J.E. Hines, H. Hays, G.D. Cormons, and M. Gochfeld. 1994. Sources of variation in loss rates of colorbands applied to adult Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) in the western North Atlantic. Auk 111:881-887.

Zingo, J.M., C.A. Church, and J.A. Spendelow. 1994. Two hybrid Common X Roseate Terns fledge at Falkner Island, Connecticut, in 1993. Connecticut Warbler 14:50-55.

Burger, J., I.C.T. Nisbet, J.M. Zingo, J.A. Spendelow, C. Safina, and M. Gochfeld. 1995. Colony differences in response to trapping in Roseate Terns. Condor 97:263-266.

Nisbet, I.C.T., J.A. Spendelow, and J.S. Hatfield. 1995. Variations in growth of Roseate Tern chicks. Condor 97:335-344.

Spendelow, J.A., J.D. Nichols, I.C.T. Nisbet, H. Hays, G.D. Cormons, J. Burger, C. Safina, J.E. Hines, and M. Gochfeld. 1995. Estimating annual survival and movement rates of adults within a metapopulation of Roseate Terns. Ecology 76:2415-2428.

Spendelow, J. A. 1996. Comparisons of nesting habitat modification techniques for Roseate Terns at Falkner Island, Connecticut. Pages 18-21 in N. Ratcliffe, editor. Proceedings of the Roseate Tern Workshop, Glasgow University, March 1995.

Spendelow, J.A., J.M. Zingo, and S. Foss. 1997a. A pair of Roseate Terns fledges three young with limited human assistance. Connecticut Warbler 17:6-10.

Hatch, J.J., J.A. Spendelow, J.D. Nichols, and J.E. Hines. 1997. Recent numerical changes in North American Roseate Terns and their conjectured cause. Pages 19-20 in L.R. Monteiro, editor. Proceedings of the 7th Roseate Tern Workshop, Horta, Azores, Portugal, April 1997.

Spendelow, J.A., J.M. Zingo, D.A. Shealer, and G.W. Pendleton. 1997b. Growth and fledging of Roseate Terns in exceptionally "good" and "poor" years of overall productivity. Pages 31-33 in L.R. Monteiro, editor. Proceedings of the 7th Roseate Tern Workshop, Horta, Azores, Portugal, April 1997.

Spendelow, J.A., J.M. Zingo, and J.S. Hatfield. 1997c. Reproductive strategies for coping with poor conditions: responses of Roseate Terns to low food availability during the egg-laying period at Falkner Island, Connecticut. Pages 34-36 in L.R. Monteiro, editor. Proceedings of the 7th Roseate Tern Workshop, Horta, Azores, Portugal, April 1997.

Zingo, J.M., R. Field, and J.A. Spendelow. 1997. Impacts of trapping adult Roseate Terns on their reproductive success. Pages 37-39 in L.R. Monteiro, editor. Proceedings of the 7th Roseate Tern Workshop, Horta, Azores, Portugal, April 1997.

Spendelow, J.A., and J.M. Zingo. 1997. Female Roseate Tern fledges a chick following the death of her mate during the incubation period. Colonial Waterbirds 20:552-555.

Nisbet, I.C.T., J. A. Spendelow, J.S. Hatfield, J.M. Zingo, and G.A. Gough. 1998. Variations in growth of Roseate Tern chicks: II. Growth as an index of parental quality. Condor 100:305-315.

Gould, W.R., and J.D. Nichols. 1998. Estimation of temporal variability of survival in animal populations. Ecology 79:2531-2538.

Nisbet, I.C.T., J.S. Hatfield, W.A. Link, and J.A. Spendelow. 1999. Predicting chick survival and productivity of Roseate Terns from data on early growth. Waterbirds 22:90-97.

Nisbet, I.C.T., and J.A. Spendelow. 1999. Contribution of research to management and recovery of the Roseate Tern: Results of a twelve-year project. Waterbirds 22:239-252.

Hays, H., P. Lima, L. Monteiro, J. DiCostanzo, G. Cormons, I.C.T. Nisbet, J.E. Saliva, J.A. Spendelow, J. Burger, J. Pierce, and M. Gochfeld. 1999. A nonbreeding concentration of Roseate and Common Terns in Bahia, Brazil. Journal of Field Ornithology 70:455-464.

Spendelow, J.A. 1991a. Half-buried tires enhance Roseate Tern reproductive success. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Research Information Bulletin 91-14. 2pp.

Teets, M.J. 1998. Allocation of parental care around the time of fledging in the Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii). Unpubl. M.Sc. Thesis, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA. viii and 70pp.

Zingo, J.M. 1998c. Impacts of trapping and banding activities on productivity of Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii). Unpubl. M.Sc. Thesis, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA. xiv and 128pp.

Zingo, J.M. 1991. An investigation of Roseate Tern post-trapping response at Falkner Island, Connecticut. Unpubl. Honors Thesis, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. 17pp.

 

Unpublished Reports

Spendelow, J.A. l987b. The 1987 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USFWS, Laurel, MD. 4pp.

Spendelow, J.A. 1988. The 1988 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USFWS, Laurel, MD. 5pp.

Spendelow, J.A. 1989. The 1989 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USFWS, Laurel, MD. 6pp.

Spendelow, J.A. 1990. The 1990 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USFWS, Laurel, MD. 6pp.

Spendelow, J.A. 1991. The 1991 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USFWS, Laurel, MD. 6pp.

Spendelow, J.A. 1992. The 1992 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USFWS, Laurel, MD. 6pp.

Spendelow, J.A., and J.M. Zingo. 1993. The 1993 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USNBS, Laurel, MD. 9pp.

Spendelow, J.A., and J.M. Zingo. 1994. The 1994 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USNBS, Laurel, MD. 9pp.

Spendelow, J.A. 1996. The 1995 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USNBS, Laurel, MD. 10pp.

Spendelow, J.A. 1997. The 1996 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD. 9pp.

Spendelow, J.A. 1998. The 1997 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD. 9pp.

Spendelow, J.A. 1999. The 1998 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD. 9pp.

Spendelow, J.A. 2000. The 1999 Falkner Island Tern Project. Unpubl. report, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD. 9pp.

Spendelow, J.A. 2001. The 2000 Falkner Island Tern Project Report. Unpubl. report, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD. 9pp.

Shealer, D.A. 1998. Mate feeding and chick provisioning and their effects on breeding performance among known-age Roseate Terns at the Falkner Island Unit of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Connecticut: 1997 research summary. Unpubl. report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Westbrook, CT. 7pp.

Shealer, D.A. 1999. Aspects of the feeding ecology during the nestling period of Roseate Terns breeding on Falkner Island, Connecticut, in 1998. Unpubl. report to Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Wildlife Division, Hartford, CT. 28pp.

Grinnell, C.M., and J.A. Spendelow. 1999. An assessment of Roseate Tern breeding habitat and nest-site distribution prior to construction of a shoreline protection project at Falkner Island, Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Connecticut. Unpubl. report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Westbrook, CT.  vi and 41pp.

Grinnell, C.M., and J.A. Spendelow. 2000. Roseate Tern breeding habitat use, nestsites, productivity, and behavior at the Falkner Island Unit of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Connecticut in 1999. Unpubl. report to USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Westbrook, CT. iii and 24pp.

 

Hyperlinks: http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/mbr/tern1.htm (Roseate Tern Project Page)

http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/spendelow.htm (Jeff Spendelow's staff profile)

Other Resources:
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Contact

Dr. Jeffrey A. Spendelow
USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
11510 American Holly Drive
Laurel, MD 20708-4017
phone:301-497-5665
fax: 301-497-5666
email: jeff_spendelow@USGS.gov

 

JeffInTheField.gif (175503 bytes)
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Other

Migratory passerines and common terns are also banded in large numbers.

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