Endangered Roseate Terns
The Roseate tern (Sterna dougallii) is a migratory seabird protected under the 1994 Migratory Birds Convention Act. This bird species migrates annually from its wintering grounds in South America to island breeding grounds off the Eastern coast of Canada and the United States. Terns arrive at breeding islands in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia early May.
Roseate terns nest with Common (Sterna hirundo) and Arctic (Sterna paradisaea) terns, on rocky coastal islands, for added protection from predation and other disturbances. Terns are ground nesters, as their speckled eggs camouflage with the sand and rocks of the substrate. Roseate terns often seek further protection for their nests by concealing them in vegetation. Roseate tern chicks hatch late June, learn to fly late July, and leave their nesting grounds mid August to migrate to their winter feeding grounds. Roseate terns look similar to Common and Arctic terns, although they can be distinguished by the following features: bills are mostly black, occasionally have a rosie patch on its breast, tail streamers are much longer, lacks an outer black edge on its wings, and overall have paler bodies.
Roseate terns are listed as an endangered species by the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act and the Federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). Currently less than 100 pairs of Roseate terns nest in Canada at three established colonies: Country Island (Guysborough County, Nova Scotia), North Brother Island (Yarmouth County, NS), and Sable Island (~ 290 km Southeast of Halifax, NS).