Young: Leave nest a few days after hatching, find places to hide nearby. Threats include egg and fledgling predators, high tides and recreational use of nesting beaches. Your support helps secure a future for birds at risk. Least tern management begins in May when nesting areas on beaches are fenced and signed. Least Terns banded in southern California, including San Diego County, have been seen in winter along the Pacific coast of Guatemala, of Chiapas, southern Mexico, and of Colima, western Mexico (Massey 1981). Let us send you the latest in bird and conservation news. National Audubon Society 1997). Breeding adults have yellow bill, stumpy yellow feet, white forehead, and black cap. Inland, found along rivers with broad exposed sandbars, lakes with salt flats nearby.  In the San Francisco Bay region, breeding typically takes place on abandoned salt flats. With aggressive management, mainly by exclusion of humans via fencing, the Californian population has rebounded in recent years to about 4500 pairs, a marked increase from 582 pairs in 1974 when census work began, though it is still listed as an endangered subspecies. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. Depending on habitat availability, tern nesting colonies can range from 2 to 70 pairs. Montana, which is at the western edge of the range, has a recovery goal of 50 birds. 1997). Nest is shallow scrape, sometimes lined with pebbles, grass, debris. Least tern nesting, feeding, and brood-rearing habitats were given legal protection in Maine by designating these areas as Essential Habitats in 1995. A least tern attacking a much larger black skimmer near Drum Inlet in North Carolina, United States. In the early 1980s, the population of the subspecies S. a. antillarum was estimated at 21,300 pairs along the east coast of the U.S., but survey methods were not comprehensive and did not include a significant rooftop-nesting On ground, displays include courtship feeding. The legs are yellowish. Endangered. Adults are known to wet themselves and shake off water over the eggs when arriving at the nest. It’s the least you can do. Are the Trump Administration's Environmental Rollbacks Built to Last? Fish, crustaceans, insects. The least tern has a nearly worldwide distribution. Nest site is on open ground (or on gravel roof). It differs from the little tern mainly in that its rump and tail are gray, not white, and it has a different, more squeaking call; from the yellow-billed tern in being paler gray above and having a black tip to the bill; and from the Peruvian tern in being paler gray above and white (not pale gray) below and having a shorter black tip to the bill. We’re Just Figuring Out the Toll of Hurricane Laura, Mississippi's Big Sunflower River Named #3 on 2020 America’s Most Endangered List, An Early-season Tropical Storm Wiped out Mississippi’s Beach-nesting Birds. Photo: Dick Dickinson/Audubon Photography Awards, Breeding adult and juvenile. The interior subspecies, with a current population of about 7000 pairs, was listed as an endangered subspecies in 1985 (estimated 1000 breeding pairs), due to loss of habitat caused by dams, reservoirs, channelization, and other changes to river systems. Many spend their whole first year in their wintering area. Late-season nesting may be renests or the result of late arrivals. There are two eggs which can be seen if one looks closely. That rating was downgraded to Least Concern in 2004 due the size of the Least Tern population. The least tern (Sternula antillarum) is a species of tern that breeds in North America and locally in northern South America. Range: Atlantic coast population ranges from Maine to Florida. The Least Tern has a range of nearly half a million square kilometers. Buff to pale green, blotched with black, brown, gray. Spread the word. More to Read. Overwhelmed and Understaffed, Our National Wildlife Refuges Need Help. 2007. Age at first flight about 19-20 days; young may remain with parents another 2-3 months. For the second time in three years, Mississippi’s Big Sunflower River has been recognized as one of the nation’s most endangered rivers. Gull-billed Tern. During migration, they occasionally occur in the Lower South Platte River Basin, and less frequently on the west slope. Sometimes dips down to take prey from surface of water or land, and may catch insects in flight. Habitat: Broad, sandy, vegetation-free beaches usually located close to an estuary. The wings are mostly pale gray, but with conspicuous black markings on their outermost primaries. 1-3, perhaps rarely more. Least Tern: Scientific (Sternula antillarum) Order: CHARADRIIFORMES: Family (Latin) Laridae: Family (English) Gulls, Terns, Skimmers: Other name(s) Breeding Regions: NA, MA: Breeding Range Subregions: widespread: Nonbreeding Range Subregions: n SA coast: Countries (BETA)map Nests in colonies, sometimes in isolated pairs. In some colonies in southern California, Spanish roof tiles are placed in colonies so chicks can hide there. One brood per year, sometimes two in south. Status: State threatened. In the southeastern United States, many breeding sites are on white gravel rooftops. Least terns arrive in Nebraska from their wintering grounds in Central and South America between mid-May and early June. Terns range in size from the least tern, at 23 cm (9.1 in) in length and weighing 30–45 g (1.1–1.6 oz), to the Caspian tern at 48–56 cm (19–22 in), 500–700 g (18–25 oz).  Elsewhere, they feed in proximity to lagoons or bay mouths. Several populations are endangered. Movements and Migration. 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. It has a white throat, breast and belly and a soft gray back and wings. While numbers have gradually increased with its protected status, it is still vulnerable to predators, natural disasters or further disturbance by humans. Because most of the Least Tern's decline in California seems to have resulted from disturbance … Range Least terns range extensively along coasts and major rivers in North America, Central America, the Carib - bean, and northern South America. Photo: Howard Arndt/Audubon Photography Awards, Great Egret.  Predation on inland breeding terns by coyotes, bobcats, feral dogs and cats, great blue herons, Mississippi kites, and owls has also been documented. Roseate Tern. Diet varies with season and location; mostly small fish, crustaceans, and insects, also some small mollusks and marine worms. Usually hovers before plunging into water for tiny prey; does more hovering than most terns. Colloquially known as the “little striker” for its headlong dives in pursuit of fish, the Least Tern is, as its name suggests, North America’s smallest tern. 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 tern numbers have not increased substantially despite two decades of intensive management. Visit your local Audubon center, join a chapter, or help save birds with your state program. Populations are endangered in many areas because of human impacts on nesting areas, especially competition for use of beaches. Both parents feed young. Weight: Approximately 1 ounce. Least Tern (Photo by Anthony Zemba) The Least Tern is a sleek little shorebird related to gulls (Family Laridae). The species nests in the open near water, both coastally and along major inland rivers. Incubation period 20-25 days. Length: 8.5-9.5 inches. Help power unparalleled conservation work for birds across the Americas, Stay informed on important news about birds and their habitats, Receive reduced or free admission across our network of centers and sanctuaries, Access a free guide of more than 800 species of North American birds, Discover the impacts of climate change on birds and their habitats, Learn more about the birds you love through audio clips, stunning photography, and in-depth text.  It has occurred as a vagrant to Europe, with one record in Great Britain. Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. Audubon protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Membership benefits include one year of Audubon magazine and the latest on birds and their habitats. 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