Headline for Featured Item #1 University Blocks West End of the Beach to Protect Nesting Birds Over July 4th - Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
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University Blocks West End of the Beach to Protect Nesting Birds Over July 4th

July 02, 2013

Tern Update

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas- Local residents flocking to the university beach to watch the fireworks this week can expect to find part of it fenced off to protect nesting birds. Researchers from the Conrad Blucher Institute for Surveying and Science (CBI), at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, put up a fence to close off the west end of the beach for the Fourth of July holiday. It’s an effort to protect the least terns during their final month of nesting.

The black and white birds are known to nest near saltwater, rivers, or wetlands.  According to Rachel Fern, the graduate student monitoring the nests, they usually lay their eggs on bare grounds without a traditional nest, and it takes three weeks for the eggs to hatch, and another three weeks for the fledglings to learn to fly and leave the nest.

“While it is unusual for them to nest on a beach, they come back to the university beach every year,” said Fern.

There are currently ten fledglings and numerous nests on the beach. Last year, the area was not fenced and the nests were trampled by Coastal Bend residents who were watching the fireworks on the beach. Because of this, few of the terns survived to fledgling status last year.

“It is nearly impossible to see the nests during the day so an increase in visitors at night would result in a great loss to the nesting community,” said Deidre Williams, a research specialist at CBI.

The fencing is funded by a collaboration of organizations including the CBI, the Audubon Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Coastal Bend Bays and the Estuaries Program. Together, they are working on a plan to provide for the continued protection of the least terns during their annual nesting season at the university beach.

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