The least tern only occurs on the refuge during spring and fall migrations. It has been documented on the either the Big Sandy or Duck River units five out of the last six years. Most observations have consisted of individuals, with the exception of nine birds found loafing on the mudflats at Pace Point on the Big Sandy Unit during the fall of 2001. Since there are not any formal surveys in the areas where a majority of the observations have occurred it is suspected that most occurrences of least terns go unnoticed.
Least tern sightings on the refuge are associated with the mudflats on Kentucky Lake. Efforts to protect this habitat for least terns and many other species of migratory birds are a priority of the refuge.
- The Least Tern prefers sandy beaches for nesting, but it will use a flat gravel roof of a building. On sunny days the hot tar showing through the gravel can burn the feet of chicks or become stuck in their down. (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)