Islands in the Gulf of Maine currently provide nesting sites to as much as 50% of seabirds nesting in the contiguous United States east of the Mississippi. Species include Herring and Black-backed Gulls, Black Guillemots, Double-crested and Great Cormorants, several species of terns, and Leach’s Storm Petrels. Herring and Black-backed Gull (Larus argentatus and L. marinus) populations in parts of the northeastern United States have declined significantly over the past quarter century. Aerial surveys conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Maine in 1995-6 and 2008 suggest that this decline is non-uniform, with some colonies increasing while others decrease or are eliminated entirely. In general a pattern of near-shore losses is only partially compensated for by off-shore increases. Boat and nest counts of 8 colonies in mid-coast Maine indicate that this trend is continuing. Colonies recorded as healthy or even increasing in 2008 had been abandoned by 2012, or showed few or no fledglings. In some cases colonies that had persisted for decades were completely abandoned during the course of a single season, while others declined more gradually.

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