Volunteers needed to protect bird colonies on South Mississippi beach

csteube@sunherald.comJuly 3, 2014 

JAMES EDWARD BATES/SUN HERALD/2010A Least tern guards its nest with eggs on the beach.

JAMES EDWARD BATES

The Pascagoula River Audubon Center is still looking for volunteers this holiday weekend to help protect Least Tern colonies as part of its Audubon Mississippi Coastal Bird Stewardship Program.

Center Director Mark LaSalle said nesting season for Least Terns and Black Skimmers is in progress on the beaches and his concern is keeping beachgoers from entering these designated areas during the busy weekend.

Volunteers will set up around the colonies to inform people about the birds and warn them to stay out of the area because when a bird is scared off, their eggs are unprotected.

LaSalle said the goal is to protect the adults, chicks and eggs from heavy human traffic during the Independence Day weekend.

Major beach nesting sites along U.S. 90 are at Cowan Road; the Beauvoir-Coliseum Pier; Broad Avenue; the Pass Christian Harbor; and Henderson Avenue.

Least Terns and Black Skimmers are common along the beach, but the population is still recovering after Katrina. As of 2013, 1,000 breeding pairs of Least Terns were counted in the nesting colonies along the beach compared with 2,000 pairs prior to Katrina, according to an Audubon Center report.

Help is needed today through Sunday. For information on how to volunteer over the weekend, contact Amanda Odom at 355-1834.

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