Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
Map of the Southeast Region Map of Kentucky Map of the Caribbean and Navassa Map of North Carolina Map of Tennessee Map of South Carolina Map of Arkansas Map of Louisiana Map of Mississippi Map of Alabama Map of Georgia Map of Florida

Least Tern

Credit: USFWS

Credit: USFWS

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.


Interesting Facts

  • 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)


Last updated: December 7, 2009