---- — CONCORD — The Isles of Shoals is home to the largest colony of breeding terns in the Gulf of Maine. Common terns (state threatened), roseate terns (state and federally endangered) and Arctic terns all migrate to the Isles of Shoals of off the New Hampshire coast to nest and raise their young each year.
A special fundraising effort is now underway through the N.H. Fish and Game Department’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program to embark on new research using nanotag telemetry to learn about the foraging behavior of terns and how it affects their ability to nest and raise young.
The Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program is seeking public support for this research effort. Tax-deductible contributions may be sent to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, 03301. Make checks payable to NH Fish and Game/Nongame Program. For a print-and-mail contribution form, visit wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/support_nongame.htm.
The tern colony on Seavey Island at the Isles of Shoals consists of common terns, roseate terns and Arctic terns. Terns arrive in New Hampshire during April and May each year to breed.
Each nesting pair lays two to four eggs during late May through July. Both the male and female take turns incubating the eggs for approximately 21 to 27 days. Chicks are born with downy feathers, but are dependent on adults for protection and food. They cannot fly for approximately the first 28 days of life, therefore are very susceptible to predation. All terns leave New Hampshire in August to migrate south to their wintering grounds.
The goals of the Tern Restoration Project are to protect, manage and enhance the breeding populations of common, roseate and Arctic terns nesting at the Isles of Shoals. Since restoration efforts began in 1997, the number of common terns nesting on the islands has increased from six pairs to more than 2,600 in 2013. In addition, since the first pair of roseate terns nested in 2001, their numbers have grown to 59 pairs last year.
Information transmitted by the nano tags will be collected through the Northeast Regional Migration Monitoring Network. It will allow biologists to analyze foraging behavior by adult terns including where and how far they go to find food, and how long they forage; important factors that can influence the survival of chicks and overall productivity of the breeding populations.
This research will help biologists better understand how seeking food influences tern reproduction, and will inform future management decisions in an effort to sustain the New Hampshire tern colonies.
This work is also part of an emerging network of tern research efforts throughout the Northeast, including researchers from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, University of New Hampshire, University of Massachusetts, and Bird Studies Canada, who are all working together to track and monitor the movement of terns on the Isles of Shoals after the breeding season.
For more information about terns in New Hampshire, visit wildnh.com/Wildlife/Wildlife_profiles/common_tern.html.
The N.H. Fish and Game Department’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program is the steward for species not hunted, fished or trapped. Through wildlife monitoring and management, plus outreach and education, the Nongame Program works to protect over 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, as well as thousands of insects and other invertebrates. Learn more at wildnh.com/nongame.