© 2022 WLRN
MIAMI | SOUTH FLORIDA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Environment
In South Florida, where the Everglades meet the bays, environmental challenges abound. Sea level rise threatens homes and real estate. Invasive species imperil native plants and animals. Pesticides reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, but at what cost? WLRN's award-winning environment reporting strives to capture the color and complexity of human interaction with one of the most biodiverse areas of the planet.

Banner Breeding Year For Threatened Bird Means More Birds Falling From Rooftops

fledgling_least_tern.jpg
Key West Wildlife Center
/
Fledgling least terns can fall off the rooftops where the birds breed.

  Least terns are having a banner breeding year in Key West.

That's good news — the seabirds are listed as threatened by the state of Florida.

But it also means more young birds are falling from the rooftops where many least terns nest.

"You've got cars down below. You do have them end up coming into contact with people, automobiles, lots of things that can cause them hazards," said Tom Sweets, executive director of the Key West Wildlife Center. "The fall itself, if they're young enough, can actually kill them."

adult_least_tern.jpg
Credit Key West Wildlife Center
/
Key West Wildlife Center
Least terns are listed as threatened by the state of Florida.

  Sweets is asking drivers in Key West to be extra careful near large flat-roofed buildings, like shopping centers, where the birds nest. Least terns originally nested on beaches, but as Florida's shores have gotten developed, some colonies have moved to gravel rooftops.

If you see a fledgling that has fallen off a roof, the best thing is to call your local wildlife rescue center. Sweets says the birds are a lot smaller than the chickens people are used to seeing on the streets in Key West.

He describes them as "little white puffballs when they're tiny, and the fledges are no bigger than your fist."

The Key West Wildlife Center is part of the Florida Shorebird Alliance, which monitors least tern colonies throughout the state.