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Roof-nesting Least Tern Rescue Across Pinellas County

Project Description
Least Terns are a threatened species in Florida, largely due to human development and related activity that has heavily impacted Florida’s beaches, the traditional nesting habitat of Least Terns.  A substantial proportion of Least Terns now choose to nest on gravel rooftops as a surrogate for overcrowded beaches.  In a collaborative effort with Audubon Florida and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Clearwater Audubon has been involved in monitoring rooftop nesting Least Terns and returning fallen chicks back onto rooftops using a locally designed chick-a-boom (basically a small bucket on the end of a long pole).  This project has developed in collaboration with St Pete Audubon and Beth Forys (Eckerd College) starting in the late 90s. 

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Volunteer opportunities and physical requirements
Volunteers are needed to adopt rooftops with a history of Least Tern nesting to monitor throughout the breeding season (April-September).  At some sites where chicks are vulnerable to falling off the roof volunteers are needed to check the site periodically to search for fallen chicks and return them safely to the rooftop where their parents will continue to care for them.  Typical volunteer activities include driving within the county, monitoring tern activity at historic colony sites, educating property owners/employees/residents of buildings with rooftop nesting, chasing down chicks in parking lots and lifting them back onto rooftops using a chick-a-boom, and recording and submitting basic data.
In recent years Mardy Hornsby and a dedicated group of volunteer chick-checkers have worked throughout the hottest months of the summer returning chicks to rooftops in the area.  Marianne Korosy, Beth Forys, and John Hood have been banding chicks that are returned to rooftops since 2009, and many of these chicks have grown up and returned to nest right here in Pinellas County! 
If you are interested in getting involved please contact:
Jeff Liechty jliechty@audubon.org

Mardy Hornsby marga28@tampabay.rr.com