We compared the reproductive performance of the Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) from 1991-2002 at four restored colonies in Maine that differ in location (inshore, nearshore and offshore sites), colony age and size and predation. Specifically, phenology, clutch size, survival, growth, provisioning rates and predation intensity and frequency were compared between sites. Common Terns nesting on the two inshore islands laid larger clutches, hatched chicks earlier that grew faster, reached a greater asymptotic mass, and had a greater chance of fledging than conspecifics on a nearshore and an offshore colony, despite greater predation pressure. Individuals nesting at the offshore site suffered reduced reproductive performance, which may be due to colony location with respect to foraging areas. Clutch size, chick provisioning rates and first hatch dates (earlier) declined as colony size increased. Although inshore nesting terns produced more chicks on average, extensive predation in some years caused high breeding failure, resulting in a “boom or bust” productivity situation for these islands. Differences in predation and performance between inshore, nearshore and offshore islands have important implications for the restoration, conservation and management of terns in this region. Nearshore sites offer the best restoration potential and should be strongly considered when available.
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Vol. 27 • No. 4