Least Terns (Sternula antillarum) are known to forage away from nesting colonies, yet little information is available about movement rates and distances. We used VHF transmitters and a network of datalogging receivers to monitor movements of 23 Least Terns on the central Platte River, Nebraska, USA. We typically detected incubating and brood-rearing birds within 8 km of colonies during daylight hours, and up to 17.5 km away at night. Movement distances were even longer during post-fledging (up to 20 km) and nonbreeding (up to 31 km) periods. Colony attendance differed notably by reproductive stage, being highest for incubating and lowest for post-fledging birds. Birds were most frequently detected on the study area during brood-rearing and nonbreeding periods, and most likely to go undetected during incubation and after fledging a brood. Frequency and success of foraging behaviors were lowest on sandpit sites, intermediate on riverine sites, and highest at the Kearney Diversion Dam on the Platte River, where flow patterns likely enhanced forage fish availability. Foraging movements of Least Terns were temporally and spatially variable, with time of day, reproductive stage, and availability of prey hotspots appearing to be key factors. Management of habitat complexes for breeding Least Terns may benefit from emphasizing the availability of profitable foraging habitat within 8 km of nesting areas, and considering foraging habitat within 8 - 30 km as available.
|Title||Foraging movements and colony attendance of Least Terns (Sternula antillarum) on the central Platte River, Nebraska, USA|
|Authors||Mark H. Sherfy, Megan Ring, Jennifer H. Stucker, Michael J. Anteau, Terry L. Shaffer, Marsha A. Sovada|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center|
Michael Anteau, PhD
Michael Anteau, PhD