Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Massachusetts
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Massachusetts Project

Movements, Site Fidelity, Foraging Ecology, and Roosting Behavior of Ring-billed Gulls in Relation to a Water Supply Reservoir in Central Massachusetts.

September 2011 - December 2013


Participating Agencies

  • Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
Jillian Peirera and Dan Clark (PhD candidate) attach patagial tag to gull.

Concern over potential impacts on water quality by large numbers of roosting gulls using large reservoirs in central Massachusetts prompted this study by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. We are investigating the movement patterns, foraging strategies, and site fidelity of gulls (primarily ring-billed but also herring and great black-backed) in relation to these large and important reservoirs during the non-breeding season. Over 2,000 gulls have been marked with colored, numbered patagial tags, and hundreds of observations have been recorded by project staff and the public throughout much of Massachusetts and all along the east coast. In addition, several birds have been fitted with GPS radios to record their movements. We are also experimenting with ways of influencing and reducing the availability of anthropogenic food resources, such as feeding in parking lots, sewage treatment plants, and landfills.