Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Least terns are sea birds that nest only in very open areas, and they prefer open beaches. Under natural conditions, these habitats are occasionally flooded by storm surges and if they're not, beach vegetation takes them over. The choice for the birds is a tricky one: selection of a site that is too low could mean a loss of the nest later due to flooding. Selection of a site with too much vegetation may result in increased losses of nests and adults to predators. Under natural conditions, least terns nest in colonies of ten to twenty pairs, the numbers providing some protection against potential predators. Colony sites naturally change from year to year as habitats change. The typical small colony size and shifting of colony sites may be important to the survival of these birds. While a predator that finds a colony site may destroy all of the nests, the colony isn't large enough to sustain a predator population over time. By shifting the colony site from year to year, predators must discover it anew each season.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.