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Happy Mother’s Day, y’all!

Posted by Jody on May 14, 2017

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I’ve never considered myself a “birder” before. Don’t get me wrong – I certainly know a Road Runner from a Robin. And I can identify a male Cardinal by it’s brilliant red color and conspicuous crest. In the past, I’ve been known to enjoy watching the Harris’s Hawks nesting in our front yard tree in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and get downright excited spying an Osprey triumphantly returning to it’s nest with a freshly caught dinner in Nokomis, Florida. But, how many eggs were likely to be found in the Harris’s Hawks’ nest, and how long did the Ospreys’ eggs take to hatch?  I hadn’t a clue.

The thing is, since moving to our little beach house on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I’m starting to understand a little more about how someone gets hooked on bird watching. I’m not talking just a little hooked – I’m talking really hooked!

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Not too long ago, on a morning walk along our beach, we ran across a few scattered orange marker flags indicating nests of what we assumed were Least Terns. The little coastal critters are pretty well known in these parts. We’ve spotted the permanently marked nesting areas on the beach near Biloxi, and we have noticed the sign on Highway 90 designating a section of the roadway “Judith Toups Least Tern Highway.” In fact, we encountered a very active Least Tern nesting colony complete with helpful Audubon Society volunteers in Sarasota County (FL) last summer. So it was pretty clear what was happening on our beach! We had an actual Least Tern nesting colony forming right there, not more than a couple blocks from our beachy hideaway.

To date this particular colony has had its ups and downs. According to the American Bird Conservancy website: “The Least Tern has two big problems. It prefers sandy beaches for nesting—the same kinds of places that people love to visit. And, because it nests on the ground, it’s vulnerable to attacks by cats, dogs, and other predators, which can destroy a significant portion of a colony’s eggs and chicks.” We have had a couple big rain storms resulting in nests being covered by windswept sand. Yet we remain hopeful that the little colony on our beach survives and flourishes in the weeks and months to come.

The area is now roped off and signage has been placed. Hubby and I are planning on joining the Audubon Mississippi Coastal Bird Stewardship effort by becoming active volunteers.  I may be a real live birder when next we meet. I’ll keep you posted!

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Please Tern Around

In the meantime, you can learn more about the Least Terns on the Mississippi Gulf Coast here.

 

 

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5 Responses to “Happy Mother’s Day, y’all!”

  1. E.G.D. said

    They’re so cute as eggs, I bet they’re even more adorable as chicks! I can’t wait to see *those* pictures ^_^

    • Jody said

      We hope to see chicks in the next few days! We’ve noticed that the birds are becoming much more territorial and downright aggressive around their clutches.

  2. Shannon said

    Sounds as if you are already a bonafide birder! Great post and pics.

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