Bruce C. Thompson, Jerome A. Jackson, Joanna Burger, Laura A. Hill, Eileen M. Kirsch, and Jonathan L. Atwood Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020 Like a gull, Least Terns feed on fish. Development in nesting habitats threaten least tern procreation. With Least Tern numbers down over 80% from the mid-1960‘s, we have unfortunately seen first hand how fragile Least Tern nesting can be even in the best of circumstances. 1997). Maine's fish and wildlife are a valuable public resource, yet some species are in danger of becoming extinct within the State. At this site, which, as of now, is the only known nesting site this year in the state, there are at least 12 least terns, according to Gress. Preliminary data collected by SCDNR biologists shows that South Carolina had an average Least Tern nesting season for 2020 with approximately 1,000 nests recorded. Percent of Total Statewide California Least Tern Nesting Population in 2005 0% 2% 4% 6% 8% 10% 12% 14% 16% 18% 20% Alameda Pt Point Mugu LA Harbor Camp Pendleton Batiquitos Lagoon NAB Coronado Tijuana Estuary avg remaining 23 sites. Least terns prefer a sandy beach for nesting, but will use a building’s flat gravel roof. Their swallow-like flight gave them their earlier common name, Sea Sparrows. Habitat Least Terns nest on unvegetated sand-pebble beaches and islands of large reservoirs and rivers in northeastern and southeastern Montana, specifically the Yellowstone and Missouri river systems (Christopherson 1991). Janet and I continued our walk behind the dike and found a pair of Wilson’s Plovers, also Threatened. While its breeding range is broad, and it is common in places, this species has faced many challenges. It is obvious the bird cannot read and felt that the area between the ocean and the lagoon would provide a better location. al 1997). The age of first breeding is typically 3 years; however, breeding by 2 year-old California least terns has been Nesting and breeding behavior. The least tern arrives at its breeding grounds in late April. A section of a seldom-used dock along the waterfront in Charleston, South Carolina, is now a nesting ground for least terns threatened in the state. There has been a decrease in the number of nesting attempts and success of least terns nesting on The smallest tern in the Americas, the Least Tern, prefers nesting on sandy beaches, but will use a flat gravel roof of a building or occasionally a pebbled lot or pier. The least terns nest on the ground of beaches and natural or artificial open areas near estuaries, bays, or harbors where small fish are abundant. The national seashore closes areas around nests because interference with the nest can cause adult birds to abandon their nests and leave eggs unprotected from predators. Least tern colonies on rooftops often don’t last long as building owners see the birds as a nuisance to patrons visiting their establishment. With fewer than 40 fairy terns in existence, a lot of high tech gear ensures their survival. Least Tern Biological Status Review Report 4 concern are invasive species such as fire ants and carnivorous lizards (Hooper-Bui et al. Least terns have long pointed wings and a deeply forked tail. But in one recent operation, an unlikely household item from Kmart ended up as the hero of the day. These sites account for 28% of the state's total piping plover population, 78% of the state's total least tern population, and 91% of the state's total black skimmer populations. A group of these birds is called a "straightness" of terns. Since 1987, least terns have nested at 15 sites along the Connecticut coast from Greenwich to Groton. Least Terns nesting in the northern U.S., including Montana, may migrate the farthest of all terns, possibly wintering in South America (Thompson et. Nesting areas directly managed by ENSP in 2018 accounted for 42% of all piping plover sites, 65% of all least tern sites, and 60% of all black skimmer sites. The California Least Terns find nesting opportunities along the southeastern property line of the airport during the nesting months of April through September. The 9.6-acre Alameda Point least tern nesting site has a 500-acre buffer zone. Development pushes new predators such as crows and coyotes closer to … California least terns often have two waves of nesting during this time period (Massey and Atwood 1981). Least terns are colony nesters, meaning they nest in a group, which allows them to exchange information about food sources, as well as to detect and mob predators. Unfortunately, the bird does not understand humans and their desire to walk the beach. As recently as 1985, the breeding population for all Least Tern nesting sites in the entire United States had dropped as low as 3,000 pairs. In the 1880s they were almost entirely wiped out by the feather trade, a few colonies only remaining, in Virginia and southeastern Massachusetts. Take a look! 2019 Chronology of Events for LETE Nesting … Occasionally, tern chicks are abandoned by adults (Jenniges and Plettner 2008). 2004). Natural predators of least terns include foxes, snakes, larger birds and ghost crabs. By late August and early September, least terns leave their northern breeding grounds to head for wintering areas. Least Terns nest as a group called a colony, and this year 25 colonies were active with nine located on state beaches. The breeding colonies are not dense and may appear along either marine or estuarine shores, or on sandbar islands in large rivers, in areas free from humans or predators. Piping Plover and Least Tern Nesting Sites Background. While the bird is still protected by state and federal regulations, the beaches of Harrison County have been a popular Least Tern destination in recent years; volunteers identified sixteen colonies in 2016. But on sunny days hot tar amongst the gravel can burn chicks’ feet or get stuck in their down. Dubbed the Tern Turrett, the gravel rooftop has served as a tern nesting site for the 2017 and 2018 nesting seasons. An entire colony can be easily destroyed by predation by red foxes, raccoons, dogs and house cats, by human trampling, or by catastrophic storms. Nesting habitat of the Interior Least Tern includes bare or sparsely vegetated sand, shell, and gravel beaches, sandbars, islands, and salt flats associated with rivers and reservoirs. The transfer includes the former airstrip that was adopted by Least Terns for nesting in the 1970s and that has become the most productive breeding site in California for that species. Their nests are shallow depressions lined with shells or other debris (Massey 1974, Cogswell 1977). Least Tern Biology CA Least Tern & Snowy Plover Project slide show CA Least Tern Aging Classification for Chicks and Fledglings 2017 CA LETE Activity Report at Huntington State Beach 2018 CA LETE Activity Report at Huntington State Beach. The smallest of the North American terns, they are migratory seabirds that breed primarily along the California coast. Least Tern' Beleagured, Opportunistic and Roof-nesting Erma I. Fisk* From time immemorial Least Terns have nested on the open shale of barrier beaches and islands, surviving the natural disasters of storm, high tides an d natural predators. Encouraging building owners to accommodate nesting terns rather than get rid of them, may help these areas continue to be important breeding sites for least terns … Currently nesting at 54 breeding sites, the Least Tern is Massachusetts’ most widely distributed tern. Piping plovers, another endangered beach-nesting bird, are commonly found nesting in association with least terns. The largest colonies in 2001 occurred at: Dunbar Point (Kalmus Park), Barnstable (599 pairs); Tuckernuck Island, Nantucket (432); Sylvia State Beach, Oak Bluffs (370); and Dead Neck-Sampsons Island, Barnstable (257). Interesting Facts: The defense mechanism of adult terns when intruders enter the nesting area is to divebomb and defecate on the offender. The chicks freeze to avoid detection. Wilson’s Plover, North Beach, pair in nesting area – Ed Konrad. The least tern is the smallest tern in North America. California Least Terns are in the gull family, Laridae. Courtship typically takes place removed from the nesting colony site, usually on an exposed tidal flat or beach. Despite the rain, the Least Terns tried repeatedly to re-nest only to be flooded out again. Least terns can reach a length between 8.3-9.1 inches (21-23 centimeters) with a wingspan of 21-23 inches (53-58 centimeters) (Thompson et al., 1997). Their flight is very light, graceful, and buoyant. Friday, at sunrise, Seabrook Island’s resident photographer, Glen Cox, discovered a nest of the Least Tern outside of the designated nesting area. Least Terns will regularly re-nest if nests initiated early in the season fail; re-nests may be initiated into the latter half of July. This style of attack led them to be called "little striker." Colonies on beaches are also vulnerable to tidal overwash during extreme weather or tides. The Least Tern is the smallest tern in North America and nests on sandy beaches along both coasts of the United States, and along major rivers in the interior of the continent. In the 1800s, ladies wore hats with bird feathers, and Least Tern wings were used as decorations. California least terns establish nesting colonies on sandy soils with little vegetation along the ocean, lagoons, and bays. Favored breeding sites remain in flux, however, due to . However, breeding activity attenuates sharply in August and nests initiated late are often abandoned. Least Tern chick, adult with fish, and resting adult, next to tile used for shelter, June 2014. Late-season nests may be established by renesters from the first wave or late-arriving first time breeders (Massey and Atwood 1981). Least Terns • Conservation Status • Although widespread and common in places, its favored nesting habitat is prized for human recreation, residential development, and alteration by water diversion, which interfere with successful nesting in many areas. Other physical characteristics include a yellow beak, gray back, white belly, and black cap. Least terns lay 2-3 eggs in a shallow scrape on open beaches, islands or sandbars (Thompson, et al. Least terns have been documented nesting on the rooftop of Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium in Carteret County. Least terns feed mostly on small fish caught by skimming the surface of the water or by making dives from the air. Prior to 1996, the only known least tern nesting colonies in Kansas were at the Cimarron River in Meade County, Quivira National The 13-acre Huntington State Beach Least Tern Natural Preserve is protected by a 15-foot buffer zone on three sides. The Legislature recognized this by passing the Maine Endangered Species Act [MESA] in 1975. To follow-up on the article from June 19, 2020 that announced that Least Terns, a Threatened Species in South Carolina, had nested on North Beach, we are sorry to say that those Least Tern nests were lost in a series of heavy rains in early July. Through September are also vulnerable to tidal overwash during extreme weather or tides is common in places this. 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least tern nesting

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