STATUS: Endangered without critical habitat.|
DESCRIPTION: Long, narrow wings and a broad, forked tail identify the California leat tern. Also have black-capped head and black-tipped, pale gray wings of the least tern contrasst with its white body. It bears a white blaze across its forehead, dark forewings, black-tipped yellow bill, and yellowish feet. Is less the 25 cm when full grown and has 75 cm wingspan.
HABITAT: During the breeding season the birds can be found in Baja California, Mexico and California. It is believed they spend their winters along hte pacific coast of Central America. Usually live in colonies of 30-50 nesting pairs.
Present: Nesting is limited to San Francisco Bay colony and areas along the coast from San Luis Obispo County to Sand Diego County. Largest concentrations of breeding pairs nest in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties. Sometimes seen around Salton Sea.
THREATS AND/OR REASONS FOR DECLINE: Dredging, filling and water pollution degrade estuarine and offshore foraging areas and hamper recovery; development along shorelines; predation by domestic and wild animals.
Historic: Once nested widely along the central and southern California coast and the Pacific coast of Mexico.
OTHER INFORMATION: Least terns are opportunistic feeders known to capture more than 50 species of fish. Feed in realatively shallow, nearshore waters and coastal freshwater ponds, channels, and lakes. Intricate courtship rituals precede nesting. 1-3 eggs are laid at a time. After about 25 days eggs are hatched and within 3 weeks those hatchlings can fly.
Life on the Edge. Biosystems Books 1994. Santa Cruz, California