Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. The diminutive least tern is a creature of habit and habitat and we've been able to use information about their nesting habitat preferences to provide for their needs and ours. They need open beach with bits of broken shell and only scattered, sparse vegetation to begin their nesting. If there's too much clay mixed with the sand, such as with some dredged material, eggs become glued to the ground when it rains and break when the birds try to turn them. As the season progresses, some growth of vegetation can be good, providing shade and hiding places for chicks. Sandspurs, whose sharp seeds injure chicks, can harm the birds. Too much vegetation can hide predators. By protecting and managing a specific site for least terns we can increase colony size, determine where the birds will be for management purposes, and decrease the number of small colonies that might get in the way of our activities. Unfortunately, with all their eggs in a few baskets, our efforts can also set least tern populations up for disaster.'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.