Most of the chicks in wildlife trees at East Limestone Island have fledged and we have been enjoying watching cavity nester chicks. The Red-breasted Sapsuckers and Hairy Woodpecker chicks follow behind their parents, learning how to hunt for invertebrates and eating insects from holes their parents have made. Interestingly, woodpeckers find prey within wood by listening. Wildlife tree 109 is the only wildlife tree we are still monitoring on the island, where Red-breasted Sapsuckers are feeding their chicks. However, they now feed their chicks more infrequently; although you can hear them peeping, the adults may not come to feed the chicks for periods of a half hour or more. Wildlife tree 109 was first active in 2006, and has been active every year since 2011 with nesting Red-breasted Sapsuckers!
This year we completed a Cassin’s Auklet Census, a survey conducted every four years to count the number of active burrows on East Limestone Island. We found 101 active Cassin’s Auklet burrows! We also have 4 chicks in nestboxes at Lookout Point and the East Coast. This is lower than last year (7 chicks in nestboxes), but the number has varied a lot since the nestboxes were built in 2010 (1 chick in 2010, 6 in 2011, 2 in 2012, 7 in 2013). It is good to see that there are still some adults raising young on Limestone after the deaths of so many Cassin’s Auklets this winter, likely due to changes in food availability from warmer than average sea surface temperatures.
With the Ancient Murrelet season over we have completed our last gathering ground count and packed up the funnels for another year. We continue to monitor for raccoons using remote cameras (4 at various locations around the island), but since finding a headless Ancient Murrelet in Crow Valley, we have not found any other evidence of raccoon presence on ELI. We are now fairly certain that what we thought might be raccoon predation was actually predation by river otters, which are a common sight along the shorelines of ELI.