Ecology of ring-billed and herring gulls in Massachusetts
Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Water Supply Protection
Dr. Stephen DeStefano
The Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Water Supply Protection (Division) is responsible for the long-term management of Boston’s drinking water supply reservoirs. These reservoirs (Quabbin and Wachusett) are the two largest bodies of freshwater in Massachusetts and attract thousands of migrating and resident water birds. Because the reservoirs are unfiltered, source water quality protection is critical to maintaining clean water. While seasonal roosting populations of gulls are managed through intense harassment programs, this research was initiated to study the inland ecology of ring-billed and herring gulls in relation to the Division’s reservoirs. Through a combination of visual markers (wing-tags and leg bands) and satellite telemetry, this study has documented the seasonal movements and foraging ecology of over 1500 captured birds.
The objectives of this study were to identify roosting behavior of inland gulls, understand the foraging ecology of wintering gulls, and determine seasonal movements both within Massachusetts and throughout the Northeast. Information from this study will be used to develop a comprehensive management strategy to try and minimize the presence of gulls on each reservoir.
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Updated: March 6, 2013