A week and a half ago, we published the answer to a question many West Seattle birdwatchers had been asking – where had all the Caspian Terns, squawking so distinctively as they flew over en route to a Duwamish River nesting spot, gone? Community naturalist Kersti Muul had tracked them to a new hangout atop a building on the south end of the downtown waterfront. Here’s what she has learned since then:
I was able to view the colony (Monday) and found that they have laid eggs, and may still be laying eggs as several are still bringing fish back to their mates.
I will be watching the situation closely as it is very late now, and it is just going to get hotter as summer moves along. Chicks have to be able to fly well, in order to leave with the colony in the fall and they are already two and a half months behind schedule. The colony appears to be about half of what it was last year, and I am still trying to figure out where the rest are. I will be looking at another nest site this weekend to see if they may be there. Last year the Seattle colony had 1978 nests/4000 or so adults (WDFW drone study). My drone study has about half that this year, although I still need to do a formal count.
It’s fascinating to see all the eggs just sitting closely together on the substrate with no nesting material or depressions. You wonder how they know which eggs are theirs. When there is a disturbance and they flush out, they have to come back and know which egg(s) are theirs. It is a vulnerable time for them now with eggs to protect from predators; they are becoming increasingly aggressive, live chicks will only increase this.
Wishing them success and will update again after the weekend!!
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