2019—Love of a Lifetime

Watching the huge breeding colony of Northern Gannets at Cape St. Mary’s in Newfoundland, Canada this past October was an experience of a lifetime. The sheer numbers of these huge birds living in such a confined space is an amazing sight to see. The gannet rookery on Bird Rock, a sea stack there, numbers more than 20,000 individuals. Each pair lays and incubates a single egg during the nesting season. Northern Gannets are monogamous and they mate for life. They are pelagic so they spend most of their lives at sea but they return each year to the same space on the rookery and to the same mate. How they do it each year, finding their mate and their nest site, is extraordinary. Each time a pair reunited on the rock, they performed bonding rituals that were so charming to watch. Sometimes they intertwined their necks; sometimes they preened each others feathers; sometimes they presented their mates with moss or grass for their space, whether or not they still had a chick. These bonding rituals happen whenever they reunite, whether they’ve been apart an hour, days, or months.