Pictures of plight and survival of Least Tern shore birds in Florida...

<Male Least Tern in flight, scanning for fish.>
<Female Least Tern in waiting at beach.>

Least Tern birds along the beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida... 3 pages with 8 photos of these precious shore birds. Odds of the species breeding, faced with people and pets at crowded beaches are not in their favor. Even where some of their breeding sites are fenced and protected, like along some beaches in the Northeast, they still have to deal with natural predators like the Night Heron, Seagulls and Raccoons, to mention only the most obvious.
I know of a colony of some dozen nests, close to Waterford in CT, that lost all hatchlings
in one night. It was despair not only for the parent birds but also for a team of dedicated
Rangers and Volunteers... Another season's work just for the experience.
These shore birds are considered a threatened species in Florida. From the end of April
well into May, the male LT has to prove himself a dogged purveyor to gain assent as
a mating partner. Though the female is just as good a hunter/diver, during mating season
she gets to insist on certain privileges... For the years that I have been observing this pair
(and I cannot be affirmative as to they're being the same...), I've often wondered why they would try to do their thing on a stretch of beach which is rather crowded in the spring and where they're often disturbed and disrupted, be it by kids running or adults not willing to
alter their path. Worse, of course, are dogs not restrained by their masters. Man and pet
-at left- were having a ball only a few 100 yards from where the pair of Least Terns tried
to perform their mating ritual. To succeed they need time and definitely no interference.
When I tried to alert the dog owner to a Sanibel City ordinance, he -like many others-
became aggressive. What to say..? Too bad the community can (or will) do little to
enforce their own rules... The be nice approach may be good for business.
It certainly isn't for the birds !

<Picture of Man playing with his un-leashed dog at beach.>