A good turn for terns

A donated helicopter trip makes a difference for wildlife

NCC's Laurel Bernard, donor Earl Brewer, and pilot Robert Thorne (NCC photo)

NCC's Laurel Bernard, donor Earl Brewer, and pilot Robert Thorne (NCC photo)

The second largest common tern colony in New Brunswick nests on the aptly-named Tern Island, a sandbar protected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) on the northeast coast of New Brunswick, near Tabusintac. 

NCC staff discovered that cormorants have also started nesting on Tern Island, potentially causing a decrease in good nesting habitat for the terns. We needed to get out to the island early in the spring, before nesting started, to find ways to keep the cormorants from taking more space. The challenge? It was difficult to get there by boat, due to restrictions regarding small boat travel during pack ice season.

That’s where NCC supporter Earl Brewer came in: Earl donated the use of his helicopter for a day, enabling Laurel Bernard, our director of stewardship, to make the sensitively timed trip to Tern Island. 

Measures taken that day appear to have helped and resulted in 377 more common tern nests on Tern Island in 2019, compared with 2018. Many thanks to Earl Brewer! The trip allowed NCC and Nature New Brunswick to test ways to protect terns from competition, which will improve future conservation efforts for these seabirds.

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