Little Tern behaviour

To: birding-aus aus <>
Subject: Little Tern behaviour
From: David Stowe <>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2007 22:56:36 +1100
This evening after work went down to see the Little Terns at Penrhyn Rd (Sydney). Great seeing still a good number of chicks and frantically feeding parents.
I did notice an interesting behaviour though -
One of the chicks ran out of the messy softer sand where the nests are and onto the harder "open" sand. I momentarily lost it in the scope then found it again a few seconds later. When i found it, the chick was laying face down in the sand looking like it was dead. At first i wondered if i had found a different chick. An adult was pecking at it and standing next to it. It pecked at its neck region in a manner that looked quite harsh to my untrained eye. This went on for at least 30 seconds and i thought that the chick was definitely dead as it made absolutely no movement and was limp when the adult pecked at it. Then all of a sudden the chick got up and ran back towards the nesting area of softer sand! The adult gave it a bit of a chase and another peck then flew off!

Would this perhaps be the parent's way of teaching the chick to stay in the "safety" of better cover?? Was it not the parent but another adult making a more aggressive assertion??

I'd love to hear opinions or better still -  answers!

Also as hard as i tried i couldn't see the Fairy Tern. Is it still around?

New NPWS fence is great too.

Other birds were:
Bar-tailed Godwits
Silver Gulls (Little Terns were giving them curry when they ventured too close to the breeding area!)
Sharp-tailed Sandpipers
Red-necked Stints
Common terns
Little black cormorant

David Stowe

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