As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Common tern bird actually rather rare

Posted On Sat. May 7th, 2016

Rob and Sue Wood of Findlay contacted me to report spotting a common tern feeding in the clay pits area a few days ago. But the common tern really isn’t so common.

The common tern is a rare summer resident and an uncommon migrant. Before the larger, more aggressive gulls took over their nesting sites on the Lake Erie islands, terns were much more common.

Although the state-endangered common tern occurs statewide during migration, nesting colonies have always been restricted to the Western Basin. Artificial platforms have been successful in attracting nesting birds to more-secure nesting areas.

Terns are small, fast-flying water birds with deep V-shaped tails. They do not soar or swim like the gulls, but dive straight into the water after small fish.

Their preferred nesting sites are natural or man-made islands that are free of predatory mammals and human disturbance. They will also utilize mainland beaches and dredge disposal areas, but only when islands are unavailable.

The tern can be very defensive of its nest and young and will harass humans, dogs, muskrats and most day-flying birds. But it rarely hits the intruder, usually swerving off at the last moment.

Some can discriminate between individual humans, attacking familiar people more intensely than strangers.

Nocturnal predators are the greater risk to nesting terns and colonies can be wiped out by rats. Other nighttime lurkers such as raccoons and owls can also disrupt a tern colony, causing them to leave for up to eight hours, further jeopardizing the young’s survival.

During the 19th century, tern feathers and wings were used to decorate women’s hats. This was the primary cause of steep declines in North America and abroad. Some of the hats used the entire mounted bird to help make the fashion statement.
Terns recovered in the 20th century, thanks mainly to protective legislation and restoration work by conservation organizations and state and federal wildlife agencies.

Along the Way:
During the first week of Ohio’s wild turkey season, from April 18 to April 24, hunters bagged 8,629 of the big birds. That’s slightly higher than last year’s 8,158 turkeys checked.

Hunters are required to have a hunting license and turkey hunting permit to pursue the birds. The season bag limit is two bearded turkeys. The season will continue through May 15.

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