Least Terns (Sternula antillarum) have been documented as nesting along the central Platte River of Nebraska since 1949. The very first accounts of birds were on an island “which was formed in the dredging of sand” (Wycoff 1950). Since that time more than 90% of the documented nests occur on human created habitats consisting of commercial gravel mines and constructed river islands. From 1991 to 2005, Least Tern nests were monitored at sandpits that were managed specifically for nesting Least Terns and islands constructed in the Platte River and managed specifically to provide nest sites for Least Terns. In addition a set of sandpits which did not receive any management were monitored from 1994 to1997 to compare reproductive output to the managed sandpits. During the study period 647 Least Tern nests were documented at all sites. Of the nests observed 125 were on unmanaged sandpits, 473 were on managed sandpits and 49 were on islands. Hatching success for those nests was 38% on unmanaged sandpits, 65% on managed sandpits and 71% on constructed riverine islands. A total of 639 Least Tern chicks were observed to have fledged from these nests. Production of fledged chicks per nest for each type of nesting site were unmanaged sandpits 0.56 fledglings/nest, managed sandpits 1.13 chicks/nest and islands 1.04 chicks/nest. Nest success and fledgling survival was significantly greater at managed sandpits than unmanaged sandpits in the 1994 to 1997 time period.
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Vol. 31 • No. 2