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Combined impacts of Black-crowned Night-Heron predation/disturbance and various management activities on Roseate Tern productivity in 2003, and testing of a video surveillance system for recording the diurnal and nocturnal behavior of terns and night-herons at Falkner Island, Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Connecticut, in 2004: Report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Westbrook, Connecticut and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 5 Regional Office, Hadley, Massachusetts

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Abstract

Falkner Island (FICT), a unit of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge (SBMNWR) since 1985, is located in Long Island Sound 5 km south of Guilford, CT. For more than three decades it has been the site of the only large breeding colony in Connecticut of the federally endangered Northwest Atlantic population of Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) and the state's largest colony of Common Terns (S. hirundo). Both species have been studied at this site since 1978 as part of the Falkner Island Tern Project (FITP), and since 1987 also as part of a regional Cooperative Roseate Tern Metapopulation Dynamics and Ecology Project (CRTMP), both coordinated by Dr. Jeffrey A. Spendelow of the U.S. Geological Survey's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (USGS-PWRC). From 1997-2002 the Roseate Tern breeding population at this site declined by more than 50% from about 150 to about 70 nesting pairs, mostly as a result of the nocturnal predation and disturbance of tern chicks and eggs by Black-crowned Night-Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax). Here we report the results of research done with the goal of improving management of nocturnal predators and developing new practices/structures to reduce losses of tern eggs and chicks so as to prevent the abandonment of this site by Roseate Terns. Notification of release of the USGS 'Quick Response Funds' (QRF) that were to be used to support the part of this study entitled 'Nocturnal behavior/interactions of endangered Roseate Terns and Black-crowned Night-Herons', and final approval of the Study Plan for this research did not occur until after the breeding season in 2003 was well underway. As a result, some work will need to be completed during the 2004 field season. There are two major objectives of this study. The first is to collect basic information (a) on the nocturnal behavior and interactions of Roseate (and Common) Terns with predatory Black-crowned Night-Herons, and (b) on how the behavior of the night-herons and the behavior and productivity of the terns are affected by the activities of management personnel (or researchers) that may be moving around the island at night. The second objective is to develop new structures (or to modify existing ones) that can be used by adult Roseate Terns for nesting sites and/or by chicks as hiding sites so that tern eggs and chicks will be less susceptible to night-heron predation. Work on the development and comparative use of various man-made structures began prior to the start of the 2003 nesting season; work on the evaluation and testing of a video surveillance system to study the nocturnal behavior of the terns and night-herons began in June 2003. Reported here are (1) the results of work on the placement and use by Roseate Terns of several types of structures in different habitats, and (2) a description of the set-up, testing, and evaluation of a multi-camera video system to record tern and predator behavior during both day and night. Also given here is some additional information on other factors that affected the productivity of the Roseate Terns at FICT collected as part of the CRTMP which served as the underlying foundation for the additional work done with support of the 2003 Quick Response Funds.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Book
Title:
Combined impacts of Black-crowned Night-Heron predation/disturbance and various management activities on Roseate Tern productivity in 2003, and testing of a video surveillance system for recording the diurnal and nocturnal behavior of terns and night-herons at Falkner Island, Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Connecticut, in 2004: Report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Westbrook, Connecticut and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 5 Regional Office, Hadley, Massachusetts
Year Published:
2004
Language:
English
Publisher:
[USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Publisher location:
Laurel, MD]
Contributing office(s):
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description:
32
Number of Pages:
32