Researchers are looking for people to pitch in tracking gulls
On the South Coast, Environment Canada is asking for help tracking glaucous-winged gulls.
are grey and white seagulls found abundantly along the Salish Sea coastline. Scientists have tagged over 180 of them with coloured leg bands to better understand how the birds are faring and are asking anyone who spots a gull that has been tagged to report back.
“We want to get a better idea of their survival rates, which, of course, is a key demographic trait that determines how healthy the populations are,” said Environment Canada research scientist Mark Hipfner, speaking Monday to On The Island.
Hipfner said a tagged gull will have many different coloured bands on it and the exact combination is important for researchers.
The best way to help, he said, is to snap a picture of the accessorized bird and send that, along with the date and location of the sighting to this link, so researchers can then compile and study the submitted data.
Hipfner said gull health can be an indicator of human health because their habitat and diets — gulls eat seafood — have some overlap.
When scientists were baiting the birds to catch and tag them in the first place, there was also some snack food overlap.
“We tried a range of natural foods, things like salmon scraps, but we actually found that the most effective bait was Cheezies,” said Hipfner with a chuckle.
He said Birds Canada is compiling the data for the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife, which is an independent advisory panel to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Interested volunteers can contact Birds Canada online and the non-profit will provide route information and other details. The Birds Canada B.C. office can also be reached toll free at 1-877-349-2473.