I have always been fascinated by birds. This summer, during my vacation from high school, I have taken an active role in conservation by volunteering as a bird steward. During the warm summer mornings, I set up camp near a nesting colony of threatened Least Terns on a Northeast Florida beach and keep watch. It is crucial that these birds have a safe place to lay their eggs and raise their young since most of their historic habitat has been lost to coastal development. Even in this special area where they can nest safely, birds are still threatened by the presence of dogs and human disturbance.
Once, I saw a young boy kick his soccer ball into the colony, which is a terrible disturbance by itself. Before he ran into the colony to retrieve the ball, I informed him that his ball was lost forever. The boy was understanding after I explained to him about the bird nests, but his parents were a bigger problem. “He’s going to cry!” his mother alleged dramatically. I wanted to reply that the mother bird was also going to cry if her eggs were trampled. Thankfully, the family didn’t enter the colony, and the terns were spared that day.
Being a young steward can be hard, but it is also rewarding. I love educating curious people about the Least Terns and other birds on the beach. I hope that my enthusiasm for birds has left people more informed about the colony and just as excited about the comeback of the Least Tern as I am!