Volume 47, No. 1

Search by author or title:

Eastern coyote Canis latrans predation on adult and pre-fledgling Northern Gannets Morus bassanus nesting on mainland cliffs at Cape St. Mary's, Newfoundland, Canada


1Psychology Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL A1C 3X7, Canada (
2Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve, St. Bride's, NL A0B 2Z0, Canada
3Multimedia Department, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA


MONTEVECCHI, W., POWER, K., WHITE, E., MOONEY, C., GUZZWELL, L., LAMARRE, J., AEBERHARD, M. & FIELY, J. 2019. Eastern coyote Canis latrans predation on adult and pre-fledgling Northern Gannets Morus bassanus nesting on mainland cliffs at Cape St. Mary's, Newfoundland, Canada. Marine Ornithology 47: 39 - 42

Received 17 October 2018, accepted 6 November 2018

Date Published: 2019/04/15
Date Online: 2018/12/08
Key words: coyotes, Northern Gannets, seabirds nesting on mainland, predation, invasive species, natural selection, Newfoundland


We document the first evidence of predation by invasive eastern coyotes Canis latrans on breeding seabirds on the island of Newfoundland, Canada. We detail kills of 110 Northern Gannets Morus bassanus (50 adults, 60 large pre-fledgling chicks) nesting on mainland cliffs at the Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve. During nocturnal predation, late in the Northern Gannets' nesting season (September/October), coyotes killed 68 birds (30 adults, 38 large pre-fledgling chicks) in 2016 and 42 birds (20 adults, 22 pre-fledgling chicks) in 2018. Most birds were killed by bites to the head and cranial punctures. Approximately one-quarter of the birds were partially (pectoral muscle) or fully consumed. Based on carcass condition, it appeared that coyotes killed, consumed, and left intact gannets for one week or longer. Although coyotes are not a significant threat to seabirds, they could increase selection pressure on seabirds nesting at mainland sites. Coyote-seabird interactions are likely to increase as the canids venture to coastal seabird nesting areas and islands. 


ANDELT, W.F., ALTHOFF, D.P., CASE, R.M. & GIPSON, P.S. 1980. Surplus-killing by coyotes. Journal of Mammalogy 61: 377-378. doi:10.2307/1380076 

BAILEY, E. 1993. Introduction of foxes to Alaskan islands - History, effects on avifauna, and eradication. US Fish and Wildlife Service Resource Publication. 193: 62. 

BERTEAUX, D., CASAJUS, N., ANGERBJÖRN, A. & FUGLEI, E. 2017. Foreword to Supplement 1: Research on a polar species—the Arctic fox. Polar Research 36 (Supplement 1): 1-9. doi:10.1080/17518369.2017.1347411

BLAKE, J. 2006. Coyotes in Insular Newfoundland. St. John's, NF: Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Environment and Conservation, Wildlife Division.

BLINICK, N.S. & FLEISHMAN, A.B. 2013. Diurnal predation by a coyote (Canis latrans jamesi) on an adult Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) on Island Tiburon, Gulf of California, Mexico. Southwestern Naturalist 58:368-370. doi:10.1894/0038-4909-58.3.368 

BURKE, C.M., HEDD, A., MONTEVECCHI, W.A. & REGULAR, P. 2011. Effects of an arctic fox visit to a low arctic seabird colony. Arctic 64: 302-306. doi:10.14430/arctic4120 

CAIRNS, D.K., MONTEVECCHI, W.A. & THRELFALL, W. 1989. Researcher's guide to Newfoundland seabird colonies. St. John's, NF: Memorial University of Newfoundland Occasional Papers in Biology, no. 14.

CHARDINE, J.W., RAIL, J. & WILHELM, S. 2013. Population dynamics of Northern Gannets in North America, 1984-2009. Journal of Field Ornithology 84: 187-192. doi:10.1111/jofo.12017 

FRANCI, C.D., VÉZINA, F., GRÉGOIRE, F., RAIL, J.-F. & VERREAULT, J. 2015. Nutritional stress in Northern Gannets during an unprecedented low reproductive success year: Can extreme sea surface temperature event and dietary change be the cause? Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A 181: 1-8. doi:10.1016/j.cbpa.2014.11.017 

HERLAND, E.A., GRAHAM, T. & KAHAN, S.B. 2016. Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan, March 2016. Chatham, MA: US Fish and Wildlife Service. 

KRUUK, H. 1972. Surplus killing by carnivores. Journal of Zoology 166: 233-244. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1972.tb04087.x 

LAVERS, J.L., JONES, I.L., ROBERTSON, G.J. & DIAMOND, A.W. 2009. Contrasting population trends at two razorbill colonies in Atlantic Canada: additive effects of fox predation and hunting mortality? Avian Conservation and Ecology - Écologie et conservation des oiseaux 4: 5.

MACCARONE, A.D. & MONTEVECCHI, W.A. 1981. Red fox predation on cliff- and burrow-nesting seabirds on Baccalieu Island, Newfoundland. Canadian Field-Naturalist 95: 352-353. doi: 

MACKINNON, C.M. & KENNEDY, A.C. 2014. Decline in breeding of the Great Black-backed Gull, Larus marinus, and the Herring Gull, L. argentatus, on Boot Island, Nova Scotia, 1986 to 2010. Canadian Field-Naturalist 128: 165-172. 

MONTEVECCHI, W.A., CHARDINE, J.W., RAIL, J.-F. ET AL. 2013. Extreme event in a changing ocean climate: Warm-water perturbation of 2012 influences breeding gannets and other marine animals in the Northwest Atlantic and Gulf of St. Lawrence. Osprey 44: 14-19. 

MONTEVECCHI, W.A., FIFIELD, D.A., BURKE, C.M. ET AL. 2011. Tracking long-distance migration to assess marine pollution impact. Biology Letters 8: 218-221. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0880

MONTEVECCHI, W.A. & WELLS, J. 1984. Northern Gannet colony at Cape St. Mary's, Newfoundland expands to mainland. American Birds 38: 259-262. 

NETTLESHIP, D. 1976. Gannets in North America: Present numbers and recent population changes. Wilson Bulletin 88: 300-313. 

NISBET, I.C.T., WESELOH, D.V., HEBERT, C.E. ET AL. 2017. Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), version 3.0. In: RODEWALD, P.G (Ed.) The Birds of North America Online. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. [Available online at: Accessed 22 May 2018]. doi:10.2173/bna.hergul.03 

RAIL, J.-F., CHAMPOUX, L., LAVOIE, R.A & CHAPDELAINE, G. 2013. Monitoring of the population and contamination of the Northern Gannet in Quebec, 1966-2009. Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report Series No. 528, Quebec Region. Gatineau, QC: Environment Canada.

SHORT, J., KINNEAR, J.E. & ROBLEY, A. 2002. Surplus killing by introduced predators in Australia—evidence for ineffective anti-predator adaptations in native prey species? Biological Conservation 103: 283-301. doi:10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00139-2 

SKLEPKOVYCH, B. & MONTEVECCHI, W.A. 1996. Food availability and food hoarding behaviour by red and arctic foxes. Arctic 49: 228-234. doi:10.14430/arctic1199

TUCK, L.M. 1961. The Murres. Canadian Wildlife Service Monograph No. 1. Ottawa, ON: Queen's Printer.  

WITTENBERGER, J.F. & HUNT, G.L. 1985. The adaptive significance of coloniality in birds. In: Farner, D.S., King, J.R. & Parkes, K.C. (Eds.) Avian Biology 8: 1-78. 

Search by author or title:

Browse previous volumes: