Northern gannets on Great Saltee Island, Ireland
© Danny Green/Minden Picture
Coming home to roost
From North America to Western Europe, northern gannets live all along the North Atlantic coasts. These large birds spend most of their lives at sea, following schools of sardines, herring, and other small fish that they feed on. During breeding and hatching season, northern gannets often return to the same colony locations year after year, where thousands of birds may gather to nest and rear their young. This group is busily collecting nesting material on Great Saltee Island, the larger of the two Saltee Islands, about 3 miles off the coast of southern Ireland. Both Great and Little Saltee are largely unoccupied, well, unless you count all the birds.