06 July 2016

Nest Features of Niobrara River Terns and Plovers

Each nest of the Least Tern and Piping Plover found at the Turpin and Laughing Water colonies along the Niobrara River were associated with some object on the sandbar. No nest was without some nearby object of a greater or lesser extent.

At the Turpin colony, a stick or two was prevalent. Cobble was more evident in the plover nests, as a substrate for the eggs. Where these small pieces were found is not known, yet the breeding birds found these objects and brought them to their nest site.

A stick was also a prominent feature at the nests at the Laughing Water Colony. One nest was adjacent to a large piece of bark, which was detritus that had floated down the river and then became anchored on the sandbar.

The Piping Plover nests had a greater extent of cobble at the base of their nests.

Every nest was associated with some sort of object that naturally occurred on the sandbar. There was very little vegetation at either sandbar location.

At each colony some of the eggs were floated to determine the days of incubation.

It was a pleasure to once again visit these colonies. My first outings associated with these species in Nebraska was in 1980, when some surveys had been done along the Niobrara River. Surveys done then were along the eastern extent of this prairie river.