Conservation

Jenny Island

Tern restoration began in 1991, with a gull management program.

Location and Description: This 3-acre island in eastern Casco Bay is located 1 ½ miles south of Cundy's Harbor, Cumberland County. The island has a north facing beach, extensive tide pools, a rocky perimeter and a low lying interior dominated by shrubs. Jenny Island is owned by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and is cooperatively managed by the National Audubon Society.

Seabird and Restoration History: Although historic nesting records of tern use are scant, anecdotal reports suggests birds have used the site periodically over the last 40 years. Tern restoration began in 1991, with a gull management program. By 1993, Jenny Island was the only active tern colony in Casco Bay. Tern numbers peaked in 1998 with 1,175 pairs. However, significant predation by Great-horned Owls, Black-crowned Night-herons, and mink decimated this colony and by 2001 only 59 pairs nested. The colony has since rebounded, and in 2012 over 800 pairs of terns nested.

Access: The island is closed to public visitation during the seabird breeding season (April 1 to August 31). Staff provide travel to the island from the Bethel point area by a motorized inflatable boat. The 1 ½ mile trip takes about 20 minutes. The Jenny Island landing, while unprotected, is generally straightforward. However, equipment has to be carried over a sloping intertidal zone covered with extensive slippery algae. Like all Audubon managed islands, all personal gear, food, water, and supplies are rowed ashore. Island staff are also responsible for securing their own supplies and groceries as needed when no one is scheduled to arrive from the Audubon base camp in Bremen. Use of personal vehicles is necessary.

Island Living and Accommodations: During the field season 2 people live and work on the island at a time. An 8'x10' expedition canvas tent and a covered wooden kitchen shelter serve as the base camp and accommodate food storage and research equipment. The "kitchen" is equipped with a propane stove. There are two tent platforms for personal use and a composting toilet. A solar electrical system powers research needs including a laptop computer and cell phone.

Nesting and Migratory Birds: Breeding waterbirds include primarily Common Terns, with small numbers of Roseate and Arctic Terns. Common Eiders also nest here. Despite the island's small size and proximity to the mainland, 118 bird species have been recorded on the island, including Maine notable records for Sooty Tern, Sabine's Gull, and Bridled Tern.

Island Monitoring, Research and Management Projects: The Jenny Island field season begins in late May and continues through late July. The island supervisor is responsible for coordinating the timing of specific projects throughout the field season. Work includes, but is not limited to, the following projects: annual tern, laughing gull and eider census; tern productivity, chick growth and provisioning studies; laughing gull kleptoparasitism observations; vegetation monitoring and management; daily weather and bird lists; and predator management.

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