Refuge Updates

From the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Manager’s Desk, we bring you the latest news from the refuge via:

Refuge Updates





April 21, 2016

Partners help Maine Coastal Islands Create Nesting Habitat for Common Terns

On April 13th and 14th , staff from Maine Coastal Islands NWR and volunteers from Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Acadia National Park, and a local wildlife sanctuary worked to create safe nesting habitat for common terns on Ship Island.

Deputy Refuge Manager Brian Benedict transporting gravel to the restoration area.

In 2015, Ship Island supported 680 pairs of common terns. However, due to the rank vegetation on the island and the profile of the beach, the terns are forced to nest in a narrow 4-6’ strip of beach that is below the vegetation line and above the normal high tide line.  In recent years, up to 95% of the tern nests have been lost during a single storm event.   In 2014, the Refuge used sand and gravel from the intertidal area to create about 3,000 ft2 of suitable nesting habitat for the terns in an area not subject to flooding.  Terns have been nesting in that “restored” area for the past two summers but we wanted to expand the area so it could support additional pairs of terns. Refuge staff and volunteers shoveled 80 yds3 of sand and gravel for this project.  We placed the gravel in

We added logs and rocks to the newly created nesting area to give the terns a place to perch and to provide some places for the chicks to hide.

mechanized wheelbarrows, borrowed from Acadia National Park, to transport the sand to the upland section of the island.  We created 4,500 ft2   of additional nesting habitat for common terns during the two day effort.  We anticipate the terns will return to Ship Island in early May and are anxious to see how many pairs establish nests in the restoration area.  Refuge staff worked with the Army Corps of Engineers, USFWS Ecological Services Maine Field Office, and Maine Department of Environmental Protection to obtain the necessary permits for both projects.


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Refuge Updates are written by Refuge Manager, Beth Goettel