Elegance in Re-sighting of a Tern Two Years After Long Beach Harbor Incident

Thanks to Monte Stinnett for spotting, photographing, and reporting this Elegant Tern seen in early July 2023 at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, CA.

For wildlife rehabilitators, nothing tops a sighting of a previously treated seabird of conservation concern soaring through the air, thriving in the wild. We are thrilled to receive news that multiple banded Elegant Terns rescued during the Long Beach Harbor Seabird Incident were re-sighted exactly two years later. Thanks to citizen scientist Monte Stinnett, who captured this incredible photo, at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, CA.

In the summer of 2021, a catastrophic abandonment of an Elegant Terns nesting site at Bolsa Chica resulted in thousands of the terns re-nesting on a moored barge within the Port of Long Beach, a hazardous location for newly hatched chicks. The too-young-to-fly terns would wander off the sides of the barge, fall into the water, and then be unable to return to the safety of the barge. Bird Rescue worked tirelessly alongside partner organizations to rescue, and treat over 3,000 of these Elegant Terns.

Elegant Terns are listed as near threatened. Habitat loss, nest disturbance, and overfishing are the biggest threats to their survival. Reports of re-sightings provides us with valuable data on breeding success, returning patients, live sightings, travel patterns, and life span. If you find a banded tern, please report it on our website.

Learn more about Elegant Terns here.