Coastal Birds in South Carolina - Least Terns on Roofs

Lack of suitable beach nesting areas and loss of nests to washover and predation possibly led the Least Tern in South Carolina to adapt to nesting on flat, pebble-covered roofs in the 1980s. Presently, the majority of Least Tern nesting occurs on roofs. Most roof sites are found in Charleston, Berkeley, Georgetown, and Horry counties. Each site is not active every year, and new sites may occur in any nesting season.

SCDNR manages each site through conservation partnership with the private or public owner. If agreeable to the owner, SCDNR will set up fencing on roof edges without parapets to prevent young from falling off the roof and provide small shelters which give shade and protection from avian predators. If you know of a roof which has nesting Least Terns, please contact Mary Catherine Martin.

Least Tern Chicks on gravel roof. Mary Catherine Martin/SCDNR.