Outdoor Radio: Counting Terns

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A newly hatched Common Tern awaits its siblings. / © K.P. McFarland

A newly hatched Common Tern awaits its siblings. / © K.P. McFarland

Hard hats in hand, VCE biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra head to Lake Champlain. They are taking a boat to Papasquash Island, owned by Audubon Vermont, to help count Common Tern eggs and chicks on the island.

Mark LaBarr, Audubon Vermont, holds a recently hatched Common Tern chick.

Mark LaBarr, Audubon Vermont, holds a recently hatched Common Tern chick.

Leading the excursion is Mark LaBarr of Audubon Vermont, who has been taking this trip for over 20 years. “The common tern is a state endangered species, and because of that, and with help from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, Audubon has been visiting the islands,” explains LaBarr. “We protect the islands by putting buoys out to keep people off … We work to just get an assessment of the numbers of birds that are out there, how many chicks are getting off, and just keep track of them over time.”

Their efforts have been successful. “Two years ago we had our highest count of birds. The pairs were up to about 275 breeding pairs,” says LaBarr. He says the numbers have been going up each year and that they are proud of the work they’ve done. “Audubon owns the island, protects the island. I’ve been doing it for a long time. It’s great to go out and visit and hear the terns and smell the terns,” he says.

 

 

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Sara Zahendra and Mark LaBarr checking Common Tern nests. / © K.P. McFarland

Sara Zahendra and Mark LaBarr checking Common Tern nests. / © K.P. McFarland

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