Tern platform with new solar platform, May 2022. Photo by Archer Larned, Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – For the second year in a row, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), in collaboration with Audubon Mid-Atlantic and Maryland Coastal Bays Program, is continuing its coastal bay nesting platform initiative to protect and save endangered colonial waterbirds.

Over the past 40 years, colonial waterbirds such as the black skimmer and common and royal terns have seen their populations decline by over 90%. 

This staggering loss is attributed to rising sea levels caused by climate change and the eroding of the sand islands where these birds build their nests.

Dr. David Curson, Audubon Mid-Atlantic’s Director of Bird Conservation, explained on the MDNR website how dire the situation is, “In 2003, there were more than 500 pairs of Common Terns nesting at six natural colony sites in the coastal bays – today, most of these former sites have been degraded by erosion and some have been washed away entirely.”

The goal of the initiative is to construct a floating nesting platform to give these birds a place to build their homes. Currently, the platform measures 1,024 square feet and had almost 50 common terns nesting on it in 2021, making the first year a massive success.

For 2022 the team is planning to go bigger. 

They plan to double the size of the current platform, which will be able to support a larger tern colony.

They have also hired Dr. Archer Larned as the new Coastal Bird Habitat Coordinator. In his position, he plans to keep an eye on the habitat to ensure it is effective.

For 2022, “Early signs are encouraging”, Larned said to MDNR. “Remote cameras installed on the platform show that about 50 Common Terns are already using it for roosting, and we are hoping that nesting activity will begin soon.”

Those looking to learn more about these endangered species of waterbirds can check out https://mdbirds.org/conservation/endangered-species/endangered-species-of-maryland/.

For those wanting more information on the initiative and how they can help, go to https://md.audubon.org/news/nesting-platform-initiative-launched-endangered-birds-maryland-coastal-bays.

Contact our news desk at news@thebaynet.com.        

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