Only after courtship has confirmed mate selection does nesting begin by mid-May and is usually complete by mid-June. A nest consists of 1 to 3 cream-colored eggs with dark brown blotches. This brief snippet of video shows a least tern sitting on a nest with eggs at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. 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. Least terns lay eggs between the middle of April and the beginning of May. It is migratory, wintering in Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America. 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. Courtship typically takes place removed from the nesting colony site, usually on an exposed tidal flat or beach. Photo by Lindsay Addison. In some colonies in southern California, Spanish roof tiles are placed in colonies so chicks can hide there. They take about 28 days to hatch. Egg incubation lasts for 21 days. The nests are very shallow and minimally scooped out. Courtship typically takes place removed from the nesting colony site, usually on an exposed tidal flat or beach. 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. Hundreds of … The population is about 21,500 pairs; it is not currently considered federally threatened, though it is considered threatened in many of the states in which it breeds. [8] Both female and male incubate the eggs for a period of about three weeks, and both parents tend the semiprecocial young. 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. Nests often found in Least Tern colonies Typically lay 4 eggs in a small cup-like depression on the ground Line nest with small pebbles Place eggs with the narrow ends pointing to the center of the nest Threats. and anchovy (Anchoa spp.) Both sexes build nests, incubate the eggs, and care for the young. Least Terns nest in colonies and seek protected habitat. Delta Beaches, percent birds with prey returning from foraging areas, Egg stage 2009 46 24. The western population, the California least tern, was listed as an endangered species in 1972 with a population of about 600 pairs. Incubation lasts slightly over 3 weeks. After formation of the new families, groupings of birds may appear at lacustrine settings in proximity to the coast. The Least Tern is between 8 to 9 inches in length and has a wingspan between 18 to 21 inches. Young birds can fly at age four weeks. Development in nesting habitats threaten least tern procreation. Least Terns prefer to nest on sandy beaches where they face the threat of predators such as feral and free ranging cats, dogs, coyotes, raccoons, ghost crabs, human impact, and changing environments such as flooding. The bill is yellow with a small black tip in summer, all blackish in winter. It’s easy to understand why the species is threatened, and in some regions, endangered. To try to boost the numbers, eggs are whisked from their nests when bad weather threatens. 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. Only after courtshiphas confirmed mate selection does nesting begin by mid-May and is usually complete by mid-June. The least tern arrives at its breeding grounds in late April. Batiquitos Lagoon, a breeding site in San Diego County, California, Nesting pair on the Missouri River in South Dakota. Needless to say, on Friday early evening when we arrived at the Biloxi Beach Least Tern Breeding Area and there wasn't a chick in sight, and I was more than a little disappointed. When breeding, the interior least tern is like a heating pad. Occasionally, the least tern nests on the gravel roofs of buildings! It prefers sandy beaches for nesting—the same kinds of places that people love to visit. The area is located at the North side of the Santa Ana River mouth at Huntington State Beach, accessed from the Magnolia Street entrance. On coasts, nesting areas usually disturbed by … The most common prey recently for both chicks and adults are silversides smelt (Atherinops spp.) Piping Plovers and Least Terns often nest in association with each other. 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