Our biologists participate in tern census of common, least, and roseate terns. This is a manual counting of each individual tern and their nests. They also monitor the return of tagged birds, and the productivity of the tern colonies by counting eggs and chicks.
Each year during the breeding season, volunteers go out and tag individuals. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also keeps track of previously tagged individuals using a call-in system, which is written on the tag if you come across a previously tagged individual.
Monomoy NWR uses prescribed fire to reduce vegetation within the tern colony to create patchy areas in which the terns prefer to nest. Were there too much vegetation, the birds would not be able to find suitable nesting grounds. Typically nature takes care of the problem by covering the existing vegetation with sand during storms, but in recent years it has been necessary to use prescribed fire to create the same effect.
Monomoy NWR uses a type of herbicide that helps reduce the amount of woody species present while not harming any grass species. To avoid any harmful effects to the birds, the herbicide is applied in the off season when no birds are present in the colony.
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The piping plover (Charadrius melodus) is a small sand-colored shorebird that nests and feeds along sandy beaches throughout Cape Cod and the shores of Massachusetts. Piping plovers are a threatened species in Massachusetts and are protected by the migratory bird act.