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In 2006, we constructed an elevated nesting platform at the Salton Sea, California, and monitored its use by Gull-billed Terns and Black Skimmers over three subsequent breeding seasons. Black Skimmers were the first to colonize the platform with a total of five nests in 2006. In 2007 Gull-billed Terns colonized the platform with a total of 28 nests and the number of Black Skimmer nests increased to 20. Neither species nested on the platform in 2008. Low success for both species was probably influenced by at least two factors. First, when both species nested on the platform, nest densities were higher than is typical of their colonies on larger, earthen islands, and colony success may have been reduced by overcrowding. Second, lack of access to water may have reduced chicks' ability to thermoregulate effectively in the hot environment of the Salton Sea. Refinements to the size, design, and location of artificial nesting habitats are necessary to enhance productivity of colonial groundnesting birds at the Salton Sea successfully.
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Use of a nesting platform by Gull-billed Terns and Black Skimmers at the Salton Sea, California