Local News

Jul 3, 2013 1:23 PM by Rachel Cole - rcole@kristv.com

Local Beach Closed to Protect Nesting Birds

CORPUS CHRISTI - As the 4th of July celebrations spark closer, locals planning to flock to the beaches need to be aware of one beach closure in particular. A hundred yard stretch of beach across from Texas A and M, Corpus Christi University is blocked off to protect nesting birds.

Researchers from the Conrad Blutcher Institute at the university recently put up the fence and Rachel Fern, a graduate student and one of the researchers says it provide more protection for the birds.

"This fencing was just put up and they're already ten fledglings so this year by itself is already more successful year," Fern said.

"Fledglings" or "least terns" are the smallest species of tern here in Texas. The white and black birds commonly nest near salt water, rivers or wetlands and have been spotted at the university beach for the past several years.

"The birds should stay here til about the end of July and then they'll leave with their babies, they'll rally at the beach then all migrate together," Fern said.

Until then, Fern says the tiny terns need some space to properly nest. So, they fenced off part of the beach in hopes of protecting the eggs from people planning to hit the beaches to watch fireworks.

"Well we hope since they put this up for the July 4th celebration, we'd hope that when people come to watch fireworks on the beach and with their grills and stuff that they at least pick areas outside of the fence," Fern said.

Last year, the nesting area wasn't blocked off for the holiday and as a result dozens of tern eggs were trampled and fuzzy newborns were killed before they learned to fly.

"I think we had a total of 20 nests that were laid throughout the breeding season and only one was successful," Fern said.

Corpus Christi is known for having many bird watchers and Fern cautions them to be careful as well.

"They should just be conscious of when they're walking, they good thing is the birds will let them know right away if they're too close, they tend to dive bomb your head or scream at you, so be conscious be aware," she added.

Fern says larger birds also pose as a threat to the terns, trying to eat the eggs at every opportunity.

"The coastal population is not endangered right now but it is dated insufficient so we're trying to add to that," Fern said.

Researchers say when the fencing comes down at the end of the month, hopefully a fresh flock of birds will fly up and away.

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