jerry jackson
Photographed by Bette Jackson

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Source: Terns 5

Length of Segment: 00:01:13

Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. As the saying goes, “One good turn deserves another.” And when you find the tiny least tern, you're almost certain to find several. The least tern is a master traveler winging its way in small flocks between breeding sites in North America and wintering areas off the northeast coast of South America. It arrives in Florida in April and most leave by mid-October. Each year, least terns seek beaches or beach-like habitats as colony nesting sites, and begin their annual courtship flights nearby. Males test waters for availability of tiny fishes, and attract a mate by demonstrating their fishing abilities. During April and May, a male least tern is often seen carrying tiny fishes in its bill as it pursues a female. The male is in pursuit of a mate in what is known as his ‘fish flight’. If she's interested, she lands and he joins her. She holds her head high as he dances around her, fish in bill. If she’s still interested, she crouches and he steps onto her back, dangling the fish in front of her. If she seizes the fish, he mates with her and a pair-bond is formed.

'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.

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