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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Gannets

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.



43 comments:

  1. So very sad. They are beautiful birds.

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    1. It is sad to see those incredible birds dead on the beach, Mildred.

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  2. Starvation? I've seen the colony at St Marys in NL, huge birds, very noisy, you can smell them before you see them! Sad to see this one laying on the beach.

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    1. I’ve seen that colony too, Shammi.

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  3. Oh that is so sad Marie, I guess exhaustion and hunger take their toll. Things like this show us how hard it must be to survive out there in the bird/animal world ✨

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  4. What a magnificent creature. So very sad to see it dead. :-(

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  5. So sad. Doesn't look harmed or old and ragged. Guess it's time jut came.

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  6. Poor dears. I know it's nature but they are so lovely, aren't they?

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    1. They are magnificent creatures, Linda.

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  7. oh how sad to see such a beautiful bird, dead on the shores. they are gorgeous, with such pretty colors!!

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    1. The yellow head is a delicate colour, Debbie.

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  8. Sad to see, hopefully you don't encounter anymore. Do the bird experts like to know if one of these turns up on the shore?

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    1. They like to do a necropsy, Jenn, to keep track of the cause of desth. They rely on people bringing them to the wildlife office.

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  9. So sad.
    Thanks though, for telling us about them.
    Wow, six feet wing span.

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  10. So sad to see such a lovely bird dead. The video was incredible to see the birds dive in to the ocean for their food. I can see how they can become exhausted.

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    1. Aren’t they awesome swimmers, Bill?

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  11. Yes, a beautiful bird. I hope there is a non-threatening cause for the deaths of these several birds.

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    1. I suspect starvation, Joanne, but a necropsy is needed to determine the cause.

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  12. Echoing Joanne. And every one else.
    Nature is wonderful - but not gentle.

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    1. It is a harsh natural environment, Ec.

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  13. So sad and such a beautiful bird. Sorry have got a bit behind our WiFi has been down!! Take care Diane

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    1. Hope your Wifi issues got resolved, Diane.

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  14. So sad to see, I didn't really they were so big! Sarah x

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    1. They are huge, Sarah. Great swimmwers too.

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  15. What an incredible video!!! Thanks, Marie!
    I have never seen a gannet. Beautiful bird.

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    1. THere is a huge colony off Cape St. Mary’s in Newfoundland, Catarina.

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  16. Northern Gannets are magnificent birds. I expect to make a return island to the Québec colony in August. Such a spectacle!

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  17. Hmm...I've read in Cape Cod they have some strange disease that are killing them. Andrea

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  18. Oh, Marie. That would break my heart to see such a bird fallen from the sky. I wonder if it's Mother Nature's way of "controlling" the population or is this a bird that needs protection?

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    1. I don’t think gannets are at risk, Ginnie. We’re not hearing that here.

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  19. That video is simply amazing - the diving alone is magnificent but to see these birds swim underwater is even more striking. We who can go to a grocery store and buy our food without physically hunting or growing it never know the hunger that nature's creatures do. It is sad how many hard ways a life can slip away.

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  20. Thank you for incredible video dear Marie!

    these gannets are sublime creatures and how huge to have six feet wide wings ,this is someting i saw only on animal channels .

    death of these big creatures is sad thing though nature has it's own rules for all living beings

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