Audubon protects Least Terns at Lea Island by posting signs and roping off nesting areas on the beach, ensuring the birds have a future in North Carolina. Since the terns nest and raise their young on the ground, the birds, their eggs - and young chicks especially - are vulnerable to predators, like … Union 1998). The eggs are camouflaged to help prevent predation. And, because it nests on the ground, it's vulnerable to attacks by cats, dogs, and other predators, which can destroy a significant portion of a colony's eggs and chicks. Chicks leave the nest only a few days after hatching, but the adults continue to care for them, leading them to shelter in nearby grasses and bringing them food. 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. Waterbird conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, version 1. For the 20th year, least terns return to Wichita to nest. The booming population at Lea Island is great news for a species that is declining in pockets across its range. Least Terns nest and raise chicks on the beach. A., M. J. Steinkamp, K. C. Parsons, J. Capp, M. A. Cruz, M. Coulter, I. Davidson, L. Dickson, N. Edelson, R. Elliott, R. M. Erwin, S. Hatch, S. Kress, R. Milko, S. Miller, K. Mills, R. Paul, R. Phillips, J. E. Saliva, W. Sydeman, J. Trapp, J. Wheeler and K. Wohl (2002). Shallow scrape in sand, soil, or pebbles. However, Least Terns in some parts of the east are now nesting … Least terns have been documented nesting on the rooftop of Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium in … Least Tern is classified as threatened, endangered, or as a species of concern for most states because of loss of nesting habitat, and the interior population has been federally listed as endangered since 1985.Back to top. Ornithol. And when hundreds of least terns start to cluster together, with nests literally a foot or two away from each other, the beach becomes a noisy place to be. Males perform elaborate aerial displays. Usually hovers before plunging into water for tiny prey; does more hovering than most terns. Other close relatives include the yellow-billed tern and Peruvian tern, both from South America. In the Missouri River below Fort Peck Dam, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is trying to minimize impacts on least terns by reducing flows during the May-through-August nesting … But on sunny days hot tar amongst the gravel can burn chicks’ feet or get stuck in their down. The biggest threat to least terns is habitat loss. Nesting starts shortly afterwards in colonies on relatively open beaches kept free of vegetation by natural scouring from tidal action. Most least terns begin breeding in their third year. As a result, least terns have found safer nesting grounds. The fish-eating least tern is the smallest of North American terns. While its breeding range is broad, and it is common in places, this species has faced many challenges. Your support will power our science, education, advocacy and on-the-ground conservation efforts. Nesting in small colonies, least tern nests are shallow depressions scraped in open sandy areas, gravelly patches, or exposed flats. After that, they offer fishes to the female. 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. Thompson, Bruce C., Jerome A. Jackson, Joanna Burger, Laura A. Hill, Eileen M. Kirsch and Jonathan L. Atwood. Range map provided by Birds of the World Explore … Photo: Jim Verhagen/Audubon Photography Awards . “Just like North Carolina vacationers, Least Terns depend on our beaches for respite in the spring and summer,” says Lindsay Addison, Audubon coastal biologist based in Wilmington. Mating Least Terns dig shallow scrapes in the sand of open beaches to lay their eggs, but avoid areas frequented by humans. Least Tern nests on the ground, where it is vulnerable to predators and to human activity such as beach recreation. Mating begins in April or May. Usually nest in small colonies (less than 20 nests) with nests spaced far apart. Development in nesting habitats threaten least tern procreation. A. and A. S. Love. Keep up-to-date on all that happens with Audubon North Carolina's research, events and volunteer opportunities. Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds. That’s why we post barrier island nesting sites, and why we continually monitor and do outreach.”. Although known to Floridians as a coastal nester, the Least Tern (Sterna albifrons) nests regularly in the interior of the United States along major rivers. The nest is a simple scrape in the sand or shell fragments. The call of the least tern is a high-pitched “zeep", "zreep,” or “kit.” Least terns prefer a sandy beach for nesting, but will use a building’s flat gravel roof. The species is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List, which lists bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats. It’s the least you can do. Egg incubation lasts for 21 days. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA. Least Terns, the smallest of North American terns, are very similar in plumage to at least 7 other species of small terns from other parts of the world (Thompson et al. Populations are endangered in many areas because of human impacts on nesting areas, especially competition for use of beaches. DURHAM, NC – More than 1,000 Least Tern pairs are nesting at the north end of Lea Island, making the colony the largest for this climate-threatened species in North Carolina since researchers began tracking the data more than 40 years ago. Kushlan, J. Audubon protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. (2014). Least Terns breed, mostly colonially, in a variety of habitats and have adapted to nesting on gravel roofs. Lutmerding, J. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. Sanctuary and Audubon Center in Corolla, A Bright Spot for 2020: Coastal Nesting Birds Thrived, Administration Moves to Finalize Bird-Killer Policy. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2.07.2017. The Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area provides ideal nesting habitat for the terns. Downy, eyes open, able to walk but stays in nest. For a brochure on beach-nesting birds or to report a colony, contact Florida Fish and Wildlife’s northeast regional office at (352) 732-1225. At the airport, least terns have nested on the sand and gravel in four oval areas between the runway and the airplane taxiways. Often seen flying low over the water, with quick deep wingbeats and shrill cries. The least tern uses a variety of sites on which to nest – bare sand on barrier islands, sand-shell areas on dredged-material islands, gravel roofs, and even occasionally within infrequently-used gravel parking lots. “Without posting to minimize human disturbance, this colony would not be successful. The terns are raising young in an area protected and managed by Audubon, south of Topsail Island. A large section of the beach has been closed off due to the formation of a colony by the seabirds. The birds are also vulnerable to pressures from beachgoers, largely due to the bird’s nesting habits. Get Action Alerts when birds need you most! Least terns in the interior population prefer nesting on open sandbars near wide river channels. The least tern is a species of tern that breeds in North America and locally in northern South America. More ID Info. Least Tern Biology CA Least Tern & Snowy Plover Project slide show CA Least Tern Aging Classification for Chicks and Fledglings CA Least Tern Activity Report at Huntington State Beach in 2016 Report on Nesting Least Terns in CA - 2015 Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety. This is called the fish flight display. It also provides great habitat for many other species of wildlife. What began as a small colony has grown into one of the largest nesting areas for the least tern east of the Mississippi River. The total population of the subspecies amounted to 582 breeding pairs in 1974, when census work on this bird began. Both parents incubate their eggs for about 24 days. The least terns start to scrape out their potential nest sites in the sand before deciding on the ideal location, and settling in for the wait to come. Explore Birds of the World to learn more. Typically there are 2 eggs. The smallest of American terns, the Least Tern is found nesting on sandy beaches along the southern coasts of the United States and up the major river systems far into the interior of the continent. Version 1019 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2019. Our smallest tern. Nesting Habits . Historically, Maine had more than 30 miles of suitable nesting beaches that may have supported up to 200 pairs of piping plovers and 1200 pairs of least terns. Forage primarily for small (2-9 cm), non-spiny fish but also shrimp and other invertebrates. Least Tern are widespread and common in places, but its favored nesting habitat is prized for human recreation, residential development, and alteration by water diversion, which interfere with successful nesting in many areas. National Audubon Society The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Least terns will also build nests on gravel rooftops. The least terns began nesting at Gibson Station in the mid 1980s. Help secure the future for birds at risk from climate change, habitat loss and other threats. Still, the island is frequented by beachgoers, but Audubon’s work to educate the public is evidence that, with proper management, birds can thrive alongside people. Seacoasts, beaches, bays, estuaries, lagoons, lakes and rivers, breeding on sandy or gravelly beaches and banks of rivers or lakes, rarely on flat rooftops of buildings.Back to top, Small fish. In the 1800s, ladies wore hats with bird feathers, and Least Tern wings were used as decorations. The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Least Tern (Sternula antillarum), version 2.0. Reproduction: The interior least tern breeding season is April through August. 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. Legal Notices Privacy Policy Contact Us. Presently, 55% of least terns in Florida nest on gravel rooftops. Sibley, D. A. Least Terns nest in colonies, where nests can be as close as 10 feet but are often 30 feet or more apart. Learn more at www.nc.audubon.org and on Twitter at @audubonnc.​, Media contact: Ben Graham, ben.graham@audubon.org, 919-880-3793. 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