Referenced from a photo by Faraaz Abdool
About Them: This is a medium sized tern that bears much in common via look with the Common Tern, Arctic Tern, and Forster’s Tern. They all have full black caps during breeding, black bills that turn orange black for breeding, and similar flight look. They are rather passive terns. They chose to breed amongst Common and Arctic Terns because they are more aggressive in nest defense. They also manage nest protection by finding breeding locations that offer some cover for their nests. Even with these protections they still have many predators. These are tropical birds that have populations across the world, but have significantly declined in their North Eastern Atlantic population.
Their plight: For reasons rather unknown Roseate Terns are declining in their North Eastern Atlantic populations. While there is research around breeding in their breeding locations, there isn’t much information about where they winter because a large portion of the birds are generally out to sea. The birds have lost some habitat, they used to range for breeding all along the East Coast of the US, but are now only in the New England/New York area and the tip of Florida and the Bahamas. Gull populations have increased, taking over breeding habitat and causing predation of tern young. Late summer hurricanes are also very damaging to fledgling terns. The fledglings aren’t necessarily capable yet of handling such weather and storms have risen in their intensity since the 1930’s.
Historically these birds were hunted for their plumage. After the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was put in place the terns did rebound somewhat in population, but never as much as the other local terns.
What we should consider: How interesting to have a species that is only struggling to maintain population on our continent verses the rest of the world. What a difference it is to have not the concern of world extinction, but local extinction. Although, could this trend continue to the rest of the population if we aren’t able to find answers for their decline? It gives an insight into how we are maybe affecting our environments and wildlife differently than the rest of the world.
What is being done: Where they have breeding colonies there is a great deal of management including boxes that offer nest protection, banding studies, and attention to nesting pairs to research productivity and success rates of young to adult. More research needs to be done to find how to rescue this species in this location.
How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife and waterways. Support locally.
Support can be:
- donating to science groups
- helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
- being a citizen scientist through
- land restoration project
- trash clean ups
- species counts
- bio blitzes
- getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.
Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.
Further Reading, my sources:
[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]