We examined the stomach contents of 64 male and 43 female Common Murres (Uria aalge) caught in gillnets during late chick rearing/early chick departure period in August 2002 near breeding colonies in Witless Bay, Newfoundland, Canada. Twenty-six percent of stomachs contained no food. All others contained exclusively fish, and Capelin (Mallotus villosus) was the only fish positively identified. Gravid female Capelin were found in 82% of murre stomachs with contents. The number of fish ingested by murres differed between the sexes, with a mean of 2.7 fish in male stomachs and 1.6 fish in female stomachs. Mean mass of stomach contents did not differ between the sexes (males: 27.0 g; females: 22.6 g). Overall, results were similar to Common Murre diets recorded in the 1980s, despite changes in Capelin distribution and biology. The sample of Common Murres collected as gillnet bycatch was male-biased (59%). Males may have been more vulnerable to being caught in gillnets, perhaps because they were engaged in different activities at this late stage of chick rearing.
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Vol. 26 • No. 3