Elegant Tern From 2021 Southern California Seabird Rescue Sighted Thriving 350 Miles North

Released Elegant Tern spotted at Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary in Alameda CA. Photo courtesy: Kyan Russell

Success in wildlife rehabilitation comes in many forms, but nothing matches getting a report more than a year later that a bird you treated is spotted thriving in the wild.

Thanks to citizen scientist, Kyan Russell of Alameda, CA, we received an important report and a photo this month of an Elegant Tern that Bird Rescue rescued in Long Beach Harbor in the summer of 2021.

Read: A Good Tern Saved A Generation Of At Risk Nesting Seabirds

The reported seabird with a red leg band was spotted with a group of 50 other Elegant Terns along the shore at Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, Alameda CA. This sighting is 350 miles away from where the bird was returned to the wild in Southern California, a testament to the survival and longevity of rehabilitated wild birds.

This sighted bird was one among thousands of young Elegant Terns that we aided in July 2021, at Long Beach Harbor. The extraordinary seabird rescue event started after a colony of nesting terns to raise their nestlings, chose two anchored barges full of stacked boulders. This species typically raises their young near gently sloped shorelines, such as nearby Bolsa Chica wetlands, where entry and exit to waters is easier.

Because of the height from the colony to water below, these baby seabirds dropped off the two barges into the water and were found floating helpless in harbor waters still too young to fly, separated from their parents and unable to return to the colony. Without quick rescue and resuscitation, most of these vulnerable chicks would perish, and many did.

During the rescue, the chicks were scooped out of the water, and many were resuscitated by Bird Rescue staff. During the month long effort, Bird Rescue focused on three key priorities: ongoing rescues, expert patient care, and working to remedy this crisis in partnership with federal, state, and local authorities.

Upon release, the terns were banded with a metal leg band on one leg and a red or orange leg band on the other leg. Many had reddish ink applied to their head feathers to aid short term monitoring. These markers help us monitor birds in a changing world, post release.

It’s always heartening when we receive these sighting reports. We want to thank this citizen scientist and others that continue to share this valuable information. If you find a bird with a color legband, please report it here.

You can help: See a banded bird? Report it here