Mahone Bay Roseate Tern Recovery Project


In 2010, a stewardship program was initiated on Grassy Island, which historically held one-third of Canada’s Roseate tern population. The stewardship program was continued in 2011 as tern decoys, nesting boxes, and a sound system playing tern calls were placed on the island in an attempt to attract a tern colony. Gull deterrence was conducted on the island by removing gull eggs from nests to deter the adults from returning. The attempt proved successful as a tern colony of about 300 terns established itself on the island and the gull population on Grassy decreased substantially. The colony consisted of mostly Common terns, but also included several Arctic terns, as well as a pair of Roseate terns that were observed flying around the island, confirmed by Andrew Boyne of Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) who was accompanying BCAF at the time of the sighting.

In addition to the stewardship program on Grassy Island, other islands containing smaller tern colonies in the Mahone Bay area were also closely monitored. Nest, egg, and fledgling counts were conducted to monitor the breeding success of the colonies. Colonies existed early in the season on Gully Island and Crow Island, but were abandoned due to predation and flooding. Colonies were also present on Quaker, Spectacle, and Westhaver Islands, with Westhaver Island holding the only three fledglings of the season. Seabird Nesting signs were placed on all of the islands where terns were nesting to inform the public that there were nesting birds on the islands, to allow the terns adequate space, and avoid disturbance.

A population of about 30 terns was observed at Pearl Island during two trips to the island; however, it was not possible to land so nest counts were not completed.

Many festivals and events were attended, and numerous presentations delivered to local schools to educate the public on the status of the Roseate tern and the efforts being put forth to restore the population. Boater surveys were conducted at local wharves and yacht clubs to increase awareness of the project in the recreational boating community and to, as a result, hopefully increase the chances of successfully restoring a Roseate tern population in the area.