Historically, Thacher Island provided important nesting grounds for several species of terns. In 1956, 1,125 pairs of arctic, common, and roseate terns were recorded. However, since that time the terns have been displaced by opportunistic herring and black-backed gulls.
The island has the potential to be reestablished as a prime tern nesting area. The habitat remains ideal for tern breeding. Nesting terns are currently supported on islands strategically located to the north and south of Thacher Island, and could be attracted to re-establish nesting colonies on the refuge.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists have developed a tern restoration proposal which describes the area and the preferred procedures to be incorporated into the restoration project. The proposed method allows for gulls to breed and nest in adjacent areas on the island but not within the specified restoration area.
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This bird has a circumpolar distribution, breeding in temperate and sub-Arctic regions of Europe, Asia and east and central North America.