Least Tern, (Egg Bird, Tern) Flying

Length 21.5-24cm (8.5-9.5″). Fairly common summer breeder in the Cayman Islands. Buoyant flight, as if suspended on elastic. Naturally nests in beach ridges and wave-sorted shingle: coastal habitats which have been subject to significant development world-wide. Now increasingly marginalised to manmade equivalents; small colonies nest locally in bare scrapes in spoil heaps and marl pits. Least Terns were traditionally subject to egg collection, from which they take their local name. Despite full legal protection, illegal egg collection continues to this day. Losses due to nest site disturbance, predation of eggs and chicks by feral cats and dogs, and flooding of low-lying colonies combine to make an uncertain future for this tiny seabird.

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