[CT Birds] Gull Migration (partially at night)

Robert DeCandido PhD rdcny at earthlink.net
Sat Mar 17 19:44:51 EDT 2012

IN 2004-05 I spent two seasons atop the Empire State Building (ESB) 
at night - watching night migration, seven days (well nights) per 
week from Aug-Nov and April-May.

In autumn we would see gulls, mostly Herring Gulls, migrating at 
night. We would also see Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons migrating 
at night, as well as the occasional Osprey and Saw-whet Owl.

The gulls would migrate in loose flocks (more diffuse than a goose flock).

In spring, many fewer migrants passed within visual range of the ESB 
- and I don't recall seeing any gulls migrating at night.

In our area, gulls likely migrate by day and night depending upon 
weather (especially wind speed and direction), tides, etc.

All of the aforementioned species were never drawn "off-course" 
towards the Empire State Buildings lights at night. We watched them 
fly by at what seemed to be perfectly normal height/speed/behavior. 
No individuals of these species ever circled the ESB at night...And, 
rarely (if ever) have individuals of any of these species been picked 
up dead from colliding with a building's lights at night...(Other 
birds such as warblers yes, absolutely).

Anyway, it would be interesting to satellite telemetry tag migrant 
and local gulls to understand the routes they travel, and what time 
of the day/night they spend on the wing.

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