Least Tern Number Increase

The past couple of weeks I have been monitoring the Least Tern site, later in the day for a couple of hours on most days. Early in the breeding season there were a lot of Least Terns using the Venice site that I monitor, but as time progressed the numbers dropped dramatically. The reason that the number dropped is believed to have been because of the high number of crows. The crows would go into their nesting site and eat their eggs. When the tern numbers dropped, I started to notice Killdeer in the site. They were always in the same spot inside the exclosure. When the crows would get close to the Killdeer, the Killdeer would catch the crow’s attention and have the crow chase it away from its nest. If the crow did not chase the Killdeer, then the Killdeer would chase the crow out of the location. About a week ago I noticed a couple Killdeer chicks inside the exclosure, walking near the adult Killdeer. I was surprised to see the Killdeer chicks because I would imagine the Killdeer would face the same problem with crows as the Least Terns do. Some of the reasons that I thought could lead to Killdeer being successful in having chicks were because they might be more aggressive toward the crows and better able to defend their eggs. Another reason might be because they forage near the eggs and are better able to keep an eye on their nests, while Least Terns have to fly off to try to catch fish. Recently, the number of Least Terns has increased. There aren’t as many as there were early in the season but there are over fifty, and they have been there for over a week now. I have also noticed a lower number of crows flying over or landing in the exclosure. I am crossing my fingers and hoping that the Least Terns are able to defend their nests this time and see chicks soon.

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