New England Seabirds

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Cape St. Mary
Northern Gannets

  

Second Largest Gannetry in North America

Cape St. Mary has the second largest Gannetry in North America with 6,000 pairs. Your first view of the Gannets is from the visitor's center near the parking lot. Be sure to sit here on the bench and just enjoy the view and all the bird activity in the area.

Bird Rock
You can then walk about 1/2 mile to the observation ledge close to the Gannets nesting on a sea stack called Bird Rock. The stack is totally separated from the main cliff, but only about 20 feet away. Notice the Gannets covering the top of cliff in the background and the Kittiwake nests on the ledges on the side of the cliff.

The Gannet nests are on the top of the stack and down the sides. There is perpetual activity with birds flying in and out and pairs greeting one another. The sounds of the Kittiwakes and Gannets are constant.

Be Very Careful
Viewing the birds requires standing on the edge of cliff. The observation area is small and nothing protects you from falling 250 feet down to the rocks. Be very careful here of taking photographs. While you are not looking someone else can come along and accidentally bump you while putting up a tripod. This is no place for small children. I was here in June before the big tourist season, but I shared the area with several other people. I can imagine that in July this place could be quite crowded.

A long dangerous fall awaits the careless birder at Cape St. Mary.

Gannet Behaviors
Find a safe place to sit and enjoy watching the Gannets for a time.


The Gannets are very busy pair bonding, squablling over territory, preening and incubating their eggs..


Gannet build nests of grass and twigs. Nesting sites on the edge of the cliff are preferred. Perhaps because the returning bird must run a gauntlet of angry neighbors to reach his or her nest. Notice the Gannet in the lower right of this picture is holding a pebble in its mouth.

 
Gannets | Kittiwakes