For the past couple nights, i've been helping a friend in a local conservation project. The deal is that Common Terns are nesting under a nearby bridge. Though these birds are, like their name, common, their numbers in the Michigan area have been declining of late. If they are extirpated from the Great Lakes area, it would be a significant loss. The Great Lakes would be diminished in stature, and have to be renamed.
Observations have determined that there have been large losses in the nesting process. It seems that though the terns lay enough eggs, incubate them, and feed the juveniles, they leave the chicks at night an fly elsewhere. Though the location is pretty isolated and free from predation by dogs and cats and things, there are winged predators that have been eating the juveniles at night.
Unfortunately, the predators are also endangered. They are Night Herons. So, what do you do? It was decided that the Night Herons could find something else to eat. An intervention program was instituted. Just as the sun sets, baskets are placed over the juveniles, and held in place with a rock. Around sun rise, the baskets are removed. The adults are not real happy about this, and show their displeasure.
Jim had conflicting evening Audubon meetings. So for the past couple nights i've done the basket thing. The birds are hiding under rocks and bushes and things, so i have to pick them up and move them to a spot where the basket can be set. They are warm to the touch, really kind of warm fuzzies. It works out pretty good, as Jim doesn't have to be out so late to put out the baskets. It's got to be easier for him to take them off in the morning. Jim has asked me if i mind doing it. Of course not! After all, it's an opportunity to pick up hot chicks.