Middle Sister Island is a 10-acre outcropping of rock on the Canadian side of Lake Erie. The island hosts no human inhabitants, but hundreds of birds. It’s an important breeding area for wading birds, such as herons and egrets.
The shoreline of Middle Sister Island is rocky and includes some short cliffs.
Glaciers scoured these grooves in the dolomite bedrock when the last ice sheets covered this area more than 10,000 years ago.
Double-crested cormorants – fishing birds driven nearly to extinction by DDT and other pesticides – now have recovered to the point where they have all but taken over Middle Sister Island, at the expense of other bird species.
Banding great egrets is messy but rewarding work for biologists from the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Service.
Banding the birds will help scientists learn more about the movements and their habitat needs, information that can help guide conservation efforts.
Josh Knights, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Ohio, holds a great egret carefully, mindful of its long bill and sharp talons!