Saturday, July 9, 2016
Status of Least Tern colony on Levitz roof in Elmwood
This morning I spent a half hour watching the Least Tern colony on the rooftop of the Levitz warehouse in Elmwood. I scoped it from the top of a nearby building.
The peak number of sitting terns (bellies on the surface- not standing) was 15. I figure such posture to be a reasonable indication that the birds were on active nests. Based on my experience with the UNO colony, the actual number of active nests would be a bit higher, since some are usually not being incubated/brooded at any given moment. So, maybe 20-25? There were ten or so other adults hanging around on the gravel roof surface and the structures that adorn it. One such pair appeared to be in a courtship display.
I have seen little evidence of successful fledging of young at this colony in the past, but did see one medium sized downy chick this morning. I picked a time of day when shadows of the various rooftop structures would be angling toward me, so that chicks clinging to the shade (as they tend to do) would have been relatively visible (i.e., would be on the sides of the roof structures that were facing toward me). Nevertheless, olthers may have been out of view.
There were also four Killdeer on the roof, two of which appeared to be incubating.
Least Tern is the most widespread rooftop-nesting seabird in New Orleans, but Gull-billed Terns and Black Skimmers also do so regularly. Killdeer and Common Nighthawks also nest in this habitat. I suspect the largest colony of Gull-billed Terns is one that sits on a warehouse Uptown off the end of State Street - in a poor location for viewing. I have not actually visited it this year (yet), but have seen commuting terns following trajectories that appear to head them to and from it.