A California least tern. This smallest member of the tern subfamily is an endangered species. Historically they nested on many South Californian beaches, but because of loss of habitat and human disturbance their numbers have been greatly reduced.
At Bolsa Chica (CA) two islands have been built for least tern nesting. They arrive there in April from Central or South America and begin nesting in early May. Nests – nothing more than slight depressions scraped out by the adult – are located on barren sandy areas. Two or three eggs are typically laid and young terns hatch in 20 to 25 days and begin flying about 20 days later. Least terns forage for small fish such as anchovies, top smelt, surfperch and California killifish. Undisturbed nesting and foraging areas are the key to the survival of the California least tern.