Currently, there are ~ 1,700 pairs nesting from Newfoundland to North Carolina. The recovery goal for this population is 2,000 pairs.
Least terns are protected as a ‘species of special concern’ in Massachusetts, and they often share nesting habitat with Piping plovers.
We protect 3-6 colonies of Least terns annually. This species is remarkable in that it can nest in colonies ranging from just a few pairs to hundreds of pairs. In 2014, a colony of 400 pairs at Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation’s Little Beach Eel Pond was very successful. We used a low fence to prevent skunks and raccoon from walking out to the sand spit where the terns were nesting. Click here to learn more about Least terns.
We can’t always predict the location or size of a colony from year to year, so Least terns require that we be able to respond quickly to colony initiation with protective predator fencing. Even one skunk raiding for eggs can cause complete colony failure in only a few days. In 2011, a peregrine falcon caused abandonment of several tern colonies on the island.
American Oystercatchers are easily spotted on beaches, salt marshes, and small islands where they nest. In 2013, we protected 12 pairs of oystercatchers that fledged 15 chicks!
We are collaborating with the American Oystercatcher Working Group and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences to locate new nesting areas, protect nesting pairs, band adults and chicks, re-sight banded birds from prior years, and to learn more about the migration habits of these birds.
If you are interested in volunteering with our beach-nesting bird program, visit our volunteer page for more information.