A study of the observance of Common and Roseate Terns creating birdhouses and breeding grounds on the Great Gull Island is commonly termed the ‘Great Gull Island Project’. Contemplated exploration and assessment of surveys are extended activities carried out along the South American Coast. This is mainly done to examine estimates of species and find out where the two varieties spend their non-breeding seasons.
The Great Gull Island is situated on a sprawling 17-acre land, along the eastern belt of Long Island Sound, New York, USA. Once an erstwhile army fort, its establishments in the form of luxuriant battlements are now being dominated and looked after by the biggest collection of common nesting terns. A wholesome population of around 9,500 pairs of terns have inhabited the island altogether.
The island has the placement of boulders around the lineage of the island, bordered to stabilize the shoreline. The retaining walls of the fort provide breeding grounds for almost 1300 pairs of Roseate Terns. The island can proudly be regarded as the largest nesting accommodation of the endangered species in the whole of the Western Hemisphere.
Great Gull Island History
Due to industrial and offshore developments along the Long Island and the Connecticut shore, tern nesting locations were impacted badly around 1949. For these reasons, the US government found itself in a dilapidated situation where the whole of Great Gull Island was put up for sale. Through this newfound arrangement, Richard Pough, the Chairman of the Conservation Department at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), sought different acquiring the place. Richard was well aware of tern nesting history and understood their colonizing pattern in the past.
So he made practical plans to serve the acquiring of the island from the US government. In 1949, the museum initiated taking the title to the island and worked with an active group that helped re-develop a habitat that facilitated the return of terns to the island once again.
This group consisted of members from the Linnaean Society of New York, with exclusive birders, naturalists, and ornithologists assigned the responsibility of building a habitat to re-kindle the attraction of terns. The Society members quickly visited the sprawling island. They briefed existing buildings, made strong import arrangements for sand for required areas and created an overall habitat for terns to return.
Around 1955, Irwin Alperin, an aspiring Linnaean Society Member, took a quick flight over the Great Gull Island. In his journey, he was able to spot 25 pairs of Common terns making nesting pouches along the far eastern coast of the island. Roseate Terns began increasing in numbers on the island, and their nesting patterns took a sharp rise. The number of species on the island kept increasing, and their present counts are quite impressive.
Catherine Pessino from the Department of Education at AMNH invited Helen Hays for a quick, exciting tour to Great Gull Island in 1963. A lonely island that it was, there was no human intervention after the 1950s. Personnel who spent their time trying to turn the island into a habitable spot were curious enough to understand the latest updates about the number of terns nesting on the island.
Hays was overjoyed about the proposed visit and was equally enthusiastic when she landed there. She further made provisions for two exclusive teams to work for the welfare and follow up actions of the two tern species populations. Around 1969, this project found many interested workers and recruits willing to work on the island to monitor the two species closely. This has been a long-lived project that is continuously working even today.
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