Seabrook Island has a Least Tern Nest!

Least Tern on nest with partner on guard – Glenn Cox

In 2015, a major effort proceeded where the Captain Sam’s Creek and Kiawah River outflow was redirected creating the much larger North Beach. The necessary permits were provided by US Fish and Wildlife Services and the SC Department of Natural Resources because this wide expanse of beach would provide excellent nesting habitat for a number of rare and endangered species of birds: in particular the Least Tern and Wilson’s Plover. It has been successful. Both species nest on Seabrook Island now!

Least Tern egg in nest – Glenn Cox

Each year as part of the effort to provide a safe zone, the SCDNR designates a nesting area with yellow signs on North Beach between the lagoon and the dike close to Captain Sams inlet, where the birds most likely will nest. These signs direct beach goers to avoid the sensitive area so the birds can raise their young. If a nesting bird leaves its nest because of disturbance, the heat of the sun can boil the eggs or fry the young. The attached photos show how minimalist the nests are.  In fact, they are really just scrapes in the sand.

Friday, at sunrise, Seabrook Island’s resident photographer, Glen Cox, discovered a nest of the Least Tern outside of the designated nesting area. It is obvious the bird cannot read and felt that the area between the ocean and the lagoon would provide a better location. Unfortunately, the bird does not understand humans and their desire to walk the beach. In an effort to protect this bird’s nest, a new area has been cordoned with signs.

Mark Andrews, a Seabrook Island birder, who volunteers with SCDNR, coordinated with SCDNR to create the new nesting area.  SCDNR told him that it has been a bad year for Least Tern nests, so this is likely these bird’s second or third attempt to produce young this year.  While Mark was out on the beach, he saw many Least Tern pairs courting so hopefully more nests will be laid and successfully fledge chicks.  These little birds are very  territorial so if you are walking North Beach and a small tern “dive bombs” you, you have probably inadvertently gotten too close to a nest.

While people are out enjoying Seabrook Island’s North Beach they are asked to respect the boundary established to protect this Least Tern pair’s nest.

Submitted by: Judy Morr

Photo Credits: Glen Cox and Mark Andrews

Author: sibirders

SEABROOK ISLAND BIRDERS / “watching, learning, protecting” Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) are residents, renters and guests of Seabrook Island, SC who have an interest in learning, protecting and providing for the well-being of the incredible variety of birds that inhabit Seabrook Island throughout the year.

3 thoughts on “Seabrook Island has a Least Tern Nest!”

  1. It would be good to include the information on the Least Tern next in all island publications to hopefully educate non-SIBers about these wonderful little neighbors and encourage them to respect the signs. The last time we were on the beach there was a family foraging around in the nesting area!


    1. Thank you Claudia for your suggestion. The article appeared in Tidelines. We have missed the opportunity to place it in The Seabrooker for July, but we will post to NextDoor.


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