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September 24, 2008 > Least Tern Habitat Helpers Program

Least Tern Habitat Helpers Program

An example of how volunteers make a critical difference to our environment is the "Least Tern Habitat Helpers Program" at the Hayward Regional Shoreline. Under the leadership of East Bay Regional Park District Wildlife Resource Analyst Dave "Doc Quack" Riensche, staff and volunteers have created an island of sand and oyster shells for migrating terns.

These birds, once abundant in the area, have been threatened by encroaching human developments and are listed on the federal endangered species list. Due to the efforts of this group, a count of 65 pairs of California least terns nested on the island this year.

The island is also used by others including a nesting pair of Western snowy plovers, also listed as endangered. This effort which began in 2001 is the result of the efforts of 2,250 people of all ages who have contributed more than 9,350 hours of volunteer services. The Regional Parks Foundation also contributed to the effort.

Recently a group of volunteers of all ages and college students from Las Positas College spent a day clearing the island of small vegetation to preserve its integrity. Terns historically nested on sandy beaches and salt flats with sparse vegetation next to estuaries. They prefer a clear space to help them identify and give early warning of the approach of predators.

Doc Quack (510) 544-2319

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