Introduction

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Von Duyke, A. 2006. Summary report: Monitoring, research, and management activities at the Peltier Island heronry during 2004 & 2005 field season. Final report submitted to the State Wildlife Grants Program. 19 pp. State Wildlife Grants Program final report.

Introduction:

Historical records document that a large colonial waterbird nesting colony has been present in the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes watershed since at least 1945 (Natural Heritage & Non-game Research Program, MN-DNR 2006). In 1989, Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) occupied the Peltier Lake site (Anoka County T 31 R 44 Sec 11), which grew to become the second largest colonial waterbird colony in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. At its height in 1996, the Peltier site attained an estimated maximum size of 1,149 active nests with three heron species (Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias; Great Egret – Ardea alba; Black-crowned Night Heron – Nicticorax nicticorax) occupying the site. Beginning in the year 2000, local residents noticed the apparent abandonment of the Peltier Island colony over a month before chicks would normally have fledged (Butler 1992). Ground survey work confirmed that the colony had experienced near to complete loss of recruitment. Over the next five nesting seasons, this pattern continued and coincided with a steep decline in the number of active nests within the colony.

Upon the urging of local residents, the recommendation of Peltier Island Heron Task Force and with funding from the Minnesota State Wildlife Grant administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and Anoka County, a study was initiated to determine the cause(s) of abandonment and to recommend management measures geared toward preserving the Peltier Island colony. To facilitate this study, Dr. Francie Cuthbert of the University of Minnesota Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology was retained as a consultant. Andrew Von Duyke, a University of Minnesota graduate student was also hired by Anoka County to monitor the Peltier Lake colony and other metro area colonies.

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