Least Tern (Interior Population)
interior population of the least tern (interior least tern) is an
endangered species. Endangered species are animals and plants that
are in danger of becoming extinct. Threatened species are animals
and plants that are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable
future. Indentifying, protecting, and restoring endangered and threatened
species is the primary objective of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's
endangered species program.
is the Interior Least Tern?
name - Sterna antillarum
Appearance - This 8 to 9 inch birds have a black "crown" on their
head, a snowy whiter underside and forehead, grayish back and
wings, orange legs, and a yellow bill with a black tip.
Habitat - From late April to August, terns use barren to sparsely vegetated
sandbars along rivers, sand and gravel pits, or lake and reservoir
Reproduction - The terns nest in a shallow hole scraped in an open sandy area,
gravelly patch, or exposed flat. The nest in small colonies. The
chicks leave the nest only a few days after hatching, but the
adults continue to care for them, leading them to shelter in nearby
grasses and bringing them food.
Habits - The terns hover over and dive into standing
or flowing water to catch small fish.
Range - Interior least terns breed in isolated areas along the Missouri,
Mississippi, Ohio, Red, and Rio Grande river systems. Their winter
home is not known, but probably includes coastal areas of Central
and South America.
is the Interior Least Tern Endangered?
Loss or Degradation - Dams, reservoirs, and other changes
to river systems have eliminated most historic least tern habitat.
The wide channels dotted with sandbars that are preferred by the
terns have been replaced by narrow forested river corridors.
Disturbance - Recreational activities on rivers and sandbars
disturb the nesting terns, causing them to abandon their nests.
Is Being Done to Prevent Extinction of the Interior Least Tern?
Listing - The interior least tern was listed as an endangered species
Plan - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a
recovery plan that describes actions needed to help the tern survive.
Research - Additional information is being gathered on the population status
of the bird and habitat it prefers.
Protection - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, and other agencies review proposed changes
in river flow or new reservoirs and the effects those changes
may have on tern nesting areas.
Education - Public education programs have been developed
to raise awareness of the tern's plight.
Can I Do to Help Prevent the Extinction of Species?
Learn - Learn more about the interior least tern and other endangered
and threatened species. Understand how the destruction of habitat
leads to loss of endangered and threatened species and our nation's
plant and animal diversity. Tell others about what you have learned.
Join - Join a conservation group; many have local chapters.
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