A Review of Thick-Billed Murre Banding in the Canadian Arctic, 1950–2010

  • Anthony J. Gaston
  • Gregory J. Robertson
Keywords: L.M. Tuck, Thick-billed Murre, Uria lomvia, hunting, banding, populations


Banding of Thick-billed Murres Uria lomvia in the Canadian Arctic was initiated by L.M. Tuck in the 1950s, when he visited three of the largest breeding colonies in Canada. Up to 2010, banding had been carried out at eight of the 10 major breeding colonies, with totals of more than 1000 birds banded at Coburg Island and Cape Hay, Bylot Island, in the High Arctic and at Digges Sound and Coats Island in northern Hudson Bay. Because murres are long-lived birds, large-scale banding can continue to provide useful results for decades. A total of about 89 000 bandings in Arctic Canada resulted in 1757 usable recoveries up to 2010, the vast majority of which were birds killed by hunters in West Greenland or Newfoundland and Labrador. There was no apparent change in the large-scale geographical pattern of recoveries over the period reviewed, but the proportion of bands recovered has fallen. Several periods of higher- or lower-than-expected recoveries can be attributed to particular events: anomalous ice conditions, intensive gill-net fisheries, and oiling at sea. Thus, banding provided a useful tool not only for identifying migration and wintering areas, but also for identifying transient sources of increased mortality.