Rescued! Least Tern, May 24, 2016

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On May 24th, 2016 the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative assisted the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center’s staff to renest a least tern (Sternula antillarum) chick that had fallen off of a rooftop. Despite the fall, the chick was found healthy, and the chick was able to be retuned immediately to the nest. A Big THANK YOU goes out to the FKEC from our team at the FKWBC.

In the state of Florida the least tern is considered to be a threatened species. This can largely be attributed to habitat loss and fragmentation. More specifically, this is due to a loss of viable nesting sites for the least tern. Like other terns, gulls, and shorebirds, least terns lay their eggs in a “scrape.” Scrapes are small depressions made in sand and rocky substrates that house bird eggs during incubation. In recent years least terns have begun to lay their eggs on the tops of buildings that have rock covered roofs, because they see this as being the next best thing to a beach. The biggest problem that can arise however is when a curious chick wanders too close to the edge of the roof and takes a tumble to the ground. This isn’t a new development, but it’s something that the public needs to know about. If you see a small, fuzzy bird waddling around a parking lot or near the wall of a building, then call your local wildlife rehabilitator (305-852-4486 if you’re in the Upper Keys). Another sign that least terns may be nesting on the roof of a building is if you notice adult least terns circling the building from the air. Least terns are small white birds with yellow beaks and black heads (see the pictures below). Professionals, including the FKWBC and FKEC staff, are trained in renesting baby birds like least tern chicks.

Ian Martin, Education Coordinator, 2016

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