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Least tern nests face storm danger again in 2021

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 2:26 PM CDT
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PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) - Last week, there were only a few least tern nests on the beach in Pass Christian. Now, there are more than 40, which is why Audubon Mississippi roped off the area.

“The birds have had a really late start this year, so not only are we seeing nest numbers increasing now which is pretty atypical, but also the adult counts seems to be increasing as well,” said Melinda Averhart, Audubon Mississippi stewardship manager.

Nesting caution signs also symbolize a good sign of more birds rolling into the area. Last summer was anything but productive for least terns thanks to an active hurricane season.

“I think again, just the bad weather, with storms out in the gulf just delaying migration,” Averhart added. “These birds typically have boom or bust years where they’ll either do really, really well or produce nothing. So unfortunately, last year was one of those years where they did not produce anything.”

They’d like to see a boom in bird watching or birding this summer. That’s part of the $8 billion ecotourism industry in Mississippi. The folks with Audubon Mississippi say more birds on the beach mean more bucks in for the Gulf Coast economy.

“I would say absolutely that definitely impacts the visitors that we get from other states,” said Averhart. “I have people reach out to me and ask when are the babies born, because they’re waiting to come over. Typically from Louisiana or Alabama, but that didn’t happen last year.”

We’re told least tern and black skimmers also have increased numbers near Broad Avenue in Gulfport and Beauvior in Biloxi.

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