16 July 2010

Terncam Depicts Nesting Activities

A nesting pair of Least Terns near Ord, Nebraska are the stars of a favorite new web camera for birders.

Dubbed the TernCam Project, a remotely operated camera has been placed a distance away from the birds' nest, and streams a live feed of images - via wireless technology - which can be viewed at any time.

The project was the result of efforts by Ben Wheeler, a coordinating wildlife biologist, whose tasks include monitoring the endangered Least Terns and Piping Plovers which occur along the North Loup River.

"The interior least tern is a federal and state endangered species," Wheeler said. "As such, the current status of their populations is concerning to biologists. Approaching or disturbing them, especially while nesting, could pose serious consequences to the birds including nest abandonment by adults, attraction of predators or the inadvertent destruction of a nest as they are well camouflaged. The TernCam gives many people the opportunity to observe the nesting activities of least terns without posing such threats. "TernCam offers people the opportunity to view least terns that might otherwise never see this bird. "The wildlife and habitats of the Loup River is relatively unknown to the general public. Hopefully TernCam will begin to give the Loup River and it's associated channels the recognition it deserves as a healthy river system and biodiversity hotspot of Nebraska."

There were young - which have also been named - in the nest on July 16th, so the adults are quite busy getting them food and providing very attentive care.

This is an image captured from the TernCam.

On Sunday, July 18th, the nest appeared to be empty, with no adult birds present and the young in the nest gone.

The young had fledged, according to Wheeler.

"We have estimated the TernCam website was visited about 2,000 times through it's broadcast and we have received reports of visitors from several states outside of Nebraska," Wheeler said. "When people become aware and appreciate these birds, the first critical steps to restore their habitats and populations have been achieved." "The TernCam project is the result of a partnership between the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project, the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln," Wheeler said." Each of these agencies and organizations provided a critical role to the success of TernCam."