Save The Endangered Interior Least Tern!!
By: Emma Benson
The Interior Least Tern is an endangered Texas bird. We need your help to save them!!
How You Can Recognize The Interior Least Tern In The Wild:
The Interior Lest Tern is the smallest North American bird. Adults are 8-10 inches, with a 20 inch wingspan. Chicks are ping-pong ball size, with brown mottling (spots, or patches of feathers). The Interior Least Tern is gray and white with a black eye stripe, and has yellow-orange legs. They have narrow, pointed wings that make them "streamlined" flyers. They molt and breed when they are 2-3 years old. They have a high-pitched call, and it is referred to as a "zeep", "zreep", or "kit". These amazing birds hatch eggs in rocks instead of twigs, mud, or other normal bird nesting materials.
The Interior Least Tern's Habitat:
The Interior Least Tern lives and breeds inland along the edge of Texas, and in other nearby states like Mississippi, Colorado, and Arkansas. In Texas it is found in many major river systems like the Rio Grande River, Canadian River, and the Red River. Its nest is usually made up of vegetated sand, gravel, and shells. The nests are found on higher elevation than the water's edge to help survival of the young birds. Terns sometimes move annually depending on the landscape of the area. Tern's often are found living near shallow pools so they can use the fish as their food source. Since natural nesting areas are now rare Interior Least Terns are having trouble nesting.
Why Are They Endangered?
Since Interior Least Terns live near water, and water levels change throughout the year, some chicks are drowned. The Piping Plover lives near the Interior Least Tern, and this causes nesting problems. "High water flow periods cause flooding of nests and feeding areas. Fishing, camping, and ATV take up the nesting space, disturbing the Terns. Water pollution kills the fish that the Terns eat, destroying their food source. Human pesticides also kill chicks and Terns. Predators include coyotes, gray foxes, domestic dogs and cats, raptors, American crows, Great Egrets, and Great Herons."
What Can We Do To Help Them?
Scientists all over the world are joining to save the Tern. They have created protective services, signs, and fences to protect the Tern and its habitat. YOU can help the Interior Least Tern by staying off sandbars (their nesting spots), staying safe distances from shorelines, keeping you pets away from shorelines and sandbars, bird-watching from a distance and through binoculars or a bird spotting scope, and not harassing these birds in any way.