Little Terns, you win!

As a Summer visitor, the little tern migrates to Japan from Australia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand region every April. The little tern originally bred on sandy coasts, inlands with shingle and shells, and estuaries in central Japan. Recently, almost all their natural breeding grounds have been lost due to reclamations and development of industrial lands. So, currently, the Little Tern, lost their natural breeding grounds, breeds on the development lands before construction or during construction work. That’s why their breeding on the development lands often lead to friction with the land owners.

Last year, a flock of Little Terns started to breed on a development land which was owned by a local public company, and the land was scheduled to be used for a car event in a few weeks.

Because of our proposal to preserve the breeding area in the development land, the local public company had to develop an alternative area for the car event with huge cost.

In this year, the local public company, seemed to learn by the experience last year, tried to interrupt the breeding of Little Terns in the development land with huge cost, also at this time: spreading a large amount of dark sand, using streamers, and hiring a couple of workers to expel the Little Terns. I don’t know how much tax money was spent on this effort, though.

And you know what happened? The Little Terns come back again to the development land! And they started to breed in spite of interruption; the total number of Little Tern was about 600! Beloved Little Terns, you win!

This year, we started “Little Tern decoy project”. We made hundreds of Little Tern decoys by injection moulding and placed the decoys on three potential colony sites with the cooperation of private companies.

One small colony was made on one of the potential colony sites but breeding was unsuccessful due to chick predation by the Kestrel, a natural enemy of the Little Tern.

However, we felt a certain reaction to the decoy effect. So we will definitely make this project a success next year. We believe that this decoy project will produce good results for both Little Terns and humans in the future.

Tetsuya Nozawa
Aichi Branch, Wild Bird Society of Japan