Nest-Ready Refuge



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The endangered California Least Terns are making their way up from Central and South America looking for a spot to nest.

Nature Collective is preparing the nesting site for the potential arrival of these endangered birds. A nesting refuge of nearly 4-acres of sand started to come into view last March.

To create an enticing environment, vegetation was removed to provide the ideal sandy habitat that is preferred by Least Terns. In addition, shell fragments, tile huts, and decoys were placed around the site. The shell fragments scattered along the sand can be used by the birds to line their simple and shallow nests.

Above:  Oyster shell fragments are spread around the site.

The ceramic tile huts are the most noticeable addition to the site that can be observed from the trail. These huts provide a place for tiny terns to spend some time in the shade and hide from predators.

Above: Tile huts are placed 100 feet apart to help with monitoring efforts.

The decoys serve two purposes, the first being an attractant to Least Terns flying over the site. Robert Patton, Nature Collective’s sub-contractor and avian specialist describes that: “If they see something that looks like themselves, they want to check it out.” The other purpose of the decoys is to monitor predators that may be in the area by observing if and how predators interact with the decoys.

Scientists setting up tile huts for endangered California Least Tern

Above: L-R: Science Director Tim Stillinger, PhD and Avian Specialist Robert Patton establish the nesting site along the Pole Trail in anticipation of migrating California Least Terns.

Featured Story Image: Half of the decoys are paired as you would see in a natural flock.

Now through mid-July Nature Collective is conducting weekly surveys at the nesting site to monitor the presence of any nests and sightings. As we hope for the California Least Terns to make an appearance, listen, look, and learn from birders who are possibly watching as you wander along the Pole Trail this Summer. Also, check out: monthly bird count.

Your support means we can provide vital habitat for endangered species like the California Least Tern.


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