Photos of a male Least Tern bird enticing a female partner with a fresh catch...

<Photo of Least Tern with catch, in flight>


Every time the hunter/gatherer returns with a choice catch, the pair go into a sort of
elaborate Rumba back and forth... This can take several minutes and because of different kinds of interferences a coupling does not always result. Often they have to take off and
start all over elsewhere. My Big Eye presence, by the way, was never a factor.
Experience has taught me to keep a certain minimum distance. Occasionally I would
even act as a guardian angel, discreetly motioning unsuspecting strollers to circumnavigate the pair's pas de deux...
That this mating pair ever became successful breeders must be doubted, given the public beach goings-on during the busy spring season. Again: one single playful dog, off its
leash, can mess up the results of a reproductive cycle. So can a careless footstep.
Because Least Terns are not (yet) on a list of endangered species (threatened in
the state of Florida), only minor efforts are made as to their protection. Ever opportunistic Seagulls are another (albeit natural) threat to unhatched eggs in particular. See the
following page for a series of photographs that I consider amongst my most rewarding...

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<Image of male Least Tern offering small fish to female partner>