Foraging ecology and parental care of common terns (Sterna hirundo) nesting in Windermere Basin, Lake Ontario
AuthorMoore, David Joseph.
KeywordCommon tern--Ecology--Ontario--Windermere Basin.
Common tern--Ecology--Ontario, Lake (N.Y. and Ont.)
Common tern--Behavior--Ontario--Windermere Basin.
Common tern--Behavior--Ontario, Lake (N.Y. and Ont.)
Seafood gathering--Ontario--Windermere Basin.
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AbstractThe relationships among chick feeding, size and type of prey item, and foraging time away from the brood have not been well studied in seabirds. This study investigated spatial and temporal patterns of foraging and chick-provisioning among 23 radio-tagged male common terns nesting at Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario during 1991 and 1992. Telemetry data were collected concurrently with behavioural observations from an elevated blind. Terns fitted with transmitters did not differ from controls with respect to either brood attendance, patterns of chick mortality, species and size distributions of prey delivered to offspring, or chick-provisioning rates. There was a clear separation of parental roles: males were primarily responsible for feeding chicks while females allocated more time to brood attendance. The prey species most commonly delivered to chicks by adults were rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) and alewife (A/osa pseudoharengus), followed in importance by larval fish, emerald shiner (Notropis antherinoides), salmonids, and fathead minnows (Pimepha/es prome/as). The relative proportions of various fish speCies delivered to chicks by males differed over the course of each breeding season, and there was also much variability in species composition of prey between years. Sizes of prey delivered to chicks also differed between sampling periods. The modal size of fish brought to chicks during Peak 1991 was 1.5 bill lengths, while the majority of prey in Late 1991 were small larval fish. The reverse trend occurred in 1992 when small fish were delivered to chicks predominantly during the Peak nesting period. During periods when predominantly small fish were delivered to chicks, the foraging activity of radio-tagged males was concentrated within a two kilometer radius of the colony. The observed variation in prey composition and foraging locations during the study likely reflects temporal variation in the availability of prey in the vicinity of the colony. Males delivered fish to chicks at a constant rate, while females 4 increased their feeding frequency over the first six to ten brood days. The mean length of fish delivered to chicks by adults increased significantly with increasing chick age. As a group, within each nesting period, transmittered males either foraged predominantly in the same directional bearing (north during Peak 1991, south during Late 1992), or concentrated foraging activity in the immediate vicinity of the colony (Late 1991, Peak 1992). However, individual radio-tagged males exhibited unique and predictable foraging patterns, often favouring specific locations within these areas and differing in their secondary foraging patterns. Overall, the Lake Ontario shoreline between NCB Bay" (3.5 km south of colony) and the lift bridge canal (4 km north of colony) was the foraging area used most frequently by radiotagged males during the chick-rearing period. Foraging patterns of transmittered males at Windermere Basin are similar to patterns of peak-nesting common terns, but differ from those of late-nesters, at a nearby colony (Port Colborne, Lake Erie). Differences between the foraging patterns of late-nesting terns at these colonies likely reflect differences in annual patterns of fish availability between the two locations. No relationship was found between foraging proficiency of adults and survival of offspring. Stochastic factors, such as predation by black-crowned nightherons (Nycticorax nycticorax) and adverse weather conditions during the early stages of chick rearing, may be more important determinants of common tern breeding success than parental quality or fish availability.
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Parental care in the common tern (Sterna Nirundo): sexual roles in a monogamous seabirdWiggins, David A.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1984-07-09)The parental behaviour of male and female Common Terns (Sterna hirundo) was documented throughout two breeding seasons at a colony near Port Colborne , Ontario. Thirteen and fourteen pairs of terns were chosen for intensive study in 1982 and 1983, respectively. The delivery of fish by males to their mates ("courtship feeding") occurred prior-to, during, and following the egg-laying period. Following the laying of the second egg, courtship feeding rates declined significantly. There was a significant, positive correlation bebween courtship feeding rates and subsequent chick feeding rates by males. The incubation rates of females were significantly higher than those of males, especially during the first ten days of incubation. Territorial attendance rates during the incubation stage were similar for males and females. During the chick stage, territorial attendance rates of females were significantly higher than those of males. The size of fish fed to chicks by males increased as the chicks grew older and chick feeding rates of males were approximately three times higher than female rates. Based on these quantitative differences in parental care activities, the cumulative parental time investment by the two sexes was very similar. However, the energetic investment by males was likely greater than that by females, since male parental contributions (e.g. courtship feeding and chick feeding) often entailed extensive foraging behaviour.
A study of selected factors influencing the reproductive performance of the common tern (Sterna hirundo) at Port Colborne, Ontario in 1973 and 1974Hunter, Rodger Allan.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1976-10-02)Several study areas were investigated at two Port Colborne terneries during the summers of 1973 and 1974 in an attempt to determine the influence of clutch size, time of clutch initiation, position in the colony, proximity to Ring-billed Gulls, vegetation and nesting substrate on the reproductive performance of the Common Tern. Hatching success and reproductive success (the number of chicks fledged per egg laid) were generally higher for 3-egg than 2-egg clutches but fledging (the number of chicks fledged per egg hatched) success was usually independant of clutch size. Hatching, fledging and reproductive success declined as a function of time of clutch initiation. Mean clutch sizes also generally declined as a function of time. Nests located in the center of the colony exhibited higher fledging success than those on the periphery. Rock-based clutches had a lower hatching success than clutches initiated on sand or dried vegetation. Reproductive performance did not appear to be related to proximity to Ring-billed Gulls or vegetation within the study area.