Seabirds, Pacific Northwest
The BC Coastal Region has many types of Seabirds, the gulls, the terns, the cormorants, the murres, puffins, grebes, loons, and many more. Take a walk along any beach, look toward the sea and you will be amazed. I have always enjoyed watching the almost comedic antics of our gulls.
True seabirds are ocean-going birds that make their living off the sea, most only coming to land only to breed and raise their young. Not often seen during the non-breeding season. These birds are quite easily viewed in spring and summer when they come to shore to breed.
A seabird’s life on land is pretty chaotic. As spring unfolds, huge rafts of seabirds gather around nesting islands as they prepare to breed. The rocky coast of BC provides seabirds with ideal nesting habitat. Thousands of coastal bluffs and islands dot the region. Though small in size they provide safe breeding habitat for many species of seabirds.
Some feed on small fishes and others on zooplankton. Seabirds tend to be generalized in their diet, taking a wide spectrum of different sizes and types of prey. However, while rearing chicks they are more selective. Murres and puffins, feed on a varied diet but feed their chicks exclusively on fish. In some situations a particular species of fish may become dominant in the diet.
Some of these birds are constantly on the wing in search of their particular food supply. Their food is often distributed in a random way, requiring them to search large areas to locate it. When a school of fish is spotted at the surface or a herring spawn, the birds will gorge themselves until they can scarcely take off. They then may not feed for several days, they live a feast to famine life style.