NEW SHORT FILM: THE UNCOMMON COMMON TERN

What fun to encounter a small flock of terns teaching its young to fish. Nearly as large as the adults, the tubby terns cheekily squawk and demand food (shrimp I think in this case). Watch as the fledglings try to master fishing skills while the adults tirelessly guide the young on how to feed themselves.

With thanks to Paul St. Germain, president of the Thacher Island Association, for information about the ongoing restoration of shorebirds on Thacher Island.

common-tern-fledgling-feeding-copyright-kim-smith

There is nothing common about the uncommon Common Tern. They were named Common because hundreds of thousands formerly nested along the Atlantic Coast. As with many species of shorebirds, the rage for wearing fancy feathered hats during the 1800s nearly drove these exquisite “swallows of the sea” to extinction. After the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was ratified in 1918, terns began to recover.

A second major setback occurred when in the 1970s open landfills were closed, displacing thousands of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls. The aggressive and highly adaptable gulls resettled to offshore nesting sites used by terns.

Common Terns are a Species of Special Concern in Massachusetts. Through a statewide long-term commitment of restoration, protection, and management of nesting colonies, the populations are very slowly and gradually increasing. 

Former nesting sites include islands such as Cape Ann’s Thacher Island. During the mid 1950s, over 1,125 pairs of Arctic, Common, and Roseate Terns nested on Thacher Island. Today there are none.

The southern side of Thacher Island is owned by the Thacher Island Association. The northern end of Thacher Island is owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the authority of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. These two groups are working together to restore terns and other species of birds to Thacher Island.

12 comments

  • Gorgeous, informative, and mesmerizing.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Loved your Tern video and Photos. REMIND me sometime to tell you how Maine approached the nest Black back and other Gulls on former Tern just off shore nesting spots. (WAY nicer than Thacher approach.) OH, really liked the video music as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds bad Lois, yes I would like to know. Thank you for your good words and I love that you like the music. I am always thinking about music for film projects and it’s sometimes a real challenge to find just the right piece.

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      • Sooo. In Maine they had some Audubon volunteers (DEDICATED) on small near-shore Islands in LARGE cardboard boxes, with huge wings. They would POP out FLAP and use noisemakers when the gulls came to nest. THey got it and went elsewhere. The Terns returned. (Thacher pokes the eggs…I have picked on Paul about that…but he is a great guy!

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  • Thanks for getting my work day off to a good start.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Specially loved how fledgling tern finally ‘got it’ and busily started pecking for its own fish! I would also love to know where to find out more about the Maine approach to protecting tern nest sites from predatory gulls.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Kim, Beautiful film, liked the music but especially liked the the information about the terns.Thanks for the credits too.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Very nice history and loved the music as always – there squeak reminds me of the young child sneakers that squeak as they walk in them some have led lights also! It’s good if they are making a come back. Mother’s show a great deal of patience with them and I bet they are glad when they can feed on their own…Like how they catch in the end of the wave cycle. Thanks well done! 🙂 Dave & Kim 🙂

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