Spring 2014 Bird Volunteer Opportunites

Least Tern Rooftop Nesting Monitoring

Summary: Least Terns are very small migratory seabirds that nest in SC in the Spring. With the loss and degradation of natural colony sites, the Least Tern has adapted to nesting on gravel rooftops. In 2013, 60 percent of the least tern nesting sites in SC were on roofs.

This volunteer opportunity involves helping to monitor the rooftop nesting colonies. All monitoring is done from ground level, and there is some training involved and a form to fill out which directs for specific observations. Least tern roof colonies are in Charleston, Berkeley, Georgetown, and Horry Counties. It is possible to “adopt” a roof to monitor 2-3 times a week, requiring about 30-60 min. of time; and there is opportunity for a roof to be “adopted” by more than one person to share the monitoring time required. Birds start arriving from South and Central America in late March, early April and monitoring extends into mid-June.

Seabird / Shorebird Colony Nest Counting

Summary: SCDNR biologists survey seabird nests every summer to determine nesting numbers and to monitor overall trends of colonial seabird populations in the state, especially at Deveaux Bank, Bird Key, and Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuaries in Charleston County.

This volunteer opportunity involves helping SCDNR to count nests of colonial seabirds at specific sites.  Time requirement is about 4 hours in the morning for several days a week for a total of 2-3 weeks in mid-May to early June. Timing will be variable. This is a team activity. There will be a training session for volunteers to learn to identify nests and eggs, and understand the process of moving through the colony with the least amount of disturbance as possible. According to Mary-Catherine Martin, “this is a very noisy, smelly job requiring the ability to focus, amid hundreds of birds flying overhead, counting nests as you methodically move in a line with others in your group” (but some lucky people get the opportunity to help do it!). “The Coastal Birds Project is hoping to foster a network of committed volunteers, who have an interest in helping year after year.”

Contact person: Mary-Catherine Martin, SCDNR Wildlife Biologist, MartinMC@dnr.sc.gov

Least Tern