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May 5, 2010

Contact DNR about least terns nesting on rooftops

Least terns initiate nesting activities beginning in late April and S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ biologists are interested in documenting least terns nesting on rooftops.  If you see terns flying above a building and think they are nesting on the roof please send information about the location to Mary Catherine Martin at MartinMC@dnr.sc.gov.
South Carolina least terns were first observed nesting on roofs with gravel or pebble covering in 1975.  Most of the roofs are close to bays, creeks, lakes, or ponds where the terns can catch fish. TheLeast tern first statewide census of least tern nesting in 1989 indicated that 11 percent of the nests were on roofs. By the late 1990s the proportion of roof nesting was approximately 70 percent. It appears that South Carolina’s least terns are highly reliant on roof nesting sites. 
The least tern is the smallest American tern and in South Carolina it is seen primarily in coastal areas.  Least terns are slate grey above, white below and have a black crown.  In South Carolina and other coastal states, beach nesting areas for least terns are very limited because of development and human activity.

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