First two days in the life of a Little Tern chick

posted in: Nesting-failed | 0

The nest of a pair of Little Tern (Sterna albifrons) by a man-made cycling track had three eggs in June 2009. Two eggs subsequently disappeared. The remaining egg hatched and the chick, blind and covered with down, opened its eyes within hours (left). It remained in the nest and was brooded by an adult. By the next day it became energetic and left the nest to explore the surroundings. This is perceived as a critical trait towards securing its survival in an open area with predators and human activities.

The nest in such an open area is most vulnerable to every conceivable dangers.

The adults were protective of the chicks, dive bombing intruders, including the observer when he walked upright. Not so when he crouched.

Eight days after hatching the chick was found dead, of unknown cause.

If your are interested in the details of the chick’s first two days of life after hatching, check out the paper: Lim, J. C. W., 2009. First two days in the life of a little tern, Sterna albifrons (Aves: Sternidae). Nature in Singapore 2: 307-310. A PDF of the paper can be downloaded HERE

Another account has been earlier posted.

Dr Jeff Lim
August 2009

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