Northern gannets have been falling out of the sky around here which is not uncommon for these birds. However, falling onto our shores is not the way gannets usually fall.
Gannets are seabirds with white bodies, yellow heads, black wing tips and long sturdy beaks. The largest of the gannets is the Northern Gannet. They are huge, with a wing span up to six feet and live on the east coast of North America. The nearest breeding colony to Prince Edward Island is on Bonaventure Island, off the east coast of Quebec, several hundred kilometers as the gannet flies.
Gannets are rarely seen on shore in PEI. If we do see them, they are off-shore, plunging into the sea after fish such as herring.
This short video shows how gannets dive for fish. Diving gannets
When we have a gannet on this island, it is usually a dead one, which died from hunger or exhaustion, so far from its colony.
We saw the remains of three gannets this past year, two badly decomposed and one which a bird expert determined wasn't dead very long because the feathers were in great condition.
One of the birds was at Thunder Cove on the north shore. The other two were on the beach at Egmont Bay, including this beauty.
The stick in the photo is twenty-eight centimeters or 11 inches long, so the wing span of this bird is enormous.
The bird showed no sign of injury and was not tangled in a fishing net as is sometimes the case. Only a necropsy would be able to determine the cause of death. It is sad to see such a beautiful creature dead on the beach.
Should we encounter another dead bird such as this one around the island in the future, we know who to contact and where to bring the remains. We left this one to nature.