The Least Tern (Sternula Antillarum) is a species belonging to the family of the seagulls, and migrates every year from Central America to the coasts of northwestern Mexico, including the Baja California Peninsula and the southeastern United States. We can proudly say that at the tip of the sandy bar of the Estero of Punta Banda, south of Ensenada, B.C. we are visited by one of the largest colonies that have been recorded in the whole peninsula, with about 70 couples.
When large groups of migratory birds leave the peninsula, the Least Tern arrives with the purpose of nesting and raising their chicks in a period of 2 or 3 months, the season in which we find it on our coasts is between the end of May and early June and until the month of August, to again leave for the south looking to survive the winter so that they can return the following year to their homeland.
The Least Tern nests in the sand, gets to put of 1 to 3 eggs, the incubation lasts three weeks. Two to three days after leaving the egg, the chicks move away from the nest and hide among the vegetation. At this time they are very vulnerable to predators, as well as to humans.
When nesting in the ground, this species is presented with many threats, therefore they are very vulnerable. Their main threats are natural predators (crows, herons, hawks, ants, etc.) and introduced (dogs, cats and rats), humans (pollution, off-road vehicles, horses, habitat destruction) as well as some natural conditions like very high tides and occasional showers.
Unfortunately the season in which this bird gets to reproduce in the coasts of the peninsula coincides with the holiday period, therefore the increase of the tourism, and the fact that the nests are placed on the sand increase the risk of them being crushed very easily by the vehicles that circulate in the beach and dunes without any regulation. This bird is a species that is protected by the Mexican norms like the Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) which presents the same threats and also share the nesting sites.