Waterbird nests destroyed, eggs moved
Posted July 16, 2008 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated July 16, 2008 10:13 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — State wildlife officials said Wednesday least 25 waterbird nests on Shark Tooth Island have been destroyed.
“I have never seen anything like this before,” North Carolina waterbird biologist Emily Rice said.
Officials made the discovery during a routine check July 2.
For more than three years, Rice has been conducting regular surveys of the Bogue Inlet to determine the impact moving the channel has had on coastal birds that live, feed and nest there.
Rice and others checked the birds nesting on Shark Tooth Island. The birds were very noisy and active and became agitated anytime visitors approach the nesting area.
Researchers were surprised the birds did not settle down, but soon found the cause of the problem. Rice said researchers found a pile of at least 50 eggs.
The eggs were from least terns and Wilson’s plovers. Rice said someone had gone to a lot of trouble to gather the eggs.
Rice said the birds never “nest in close proximity to one another or move their eggs together.”
Rice said the predator was obviously a human.
Waterbird eggs are speckled to help them blend with the sand and shells. The camouflage effect helps protect them from predators.
State waterbird biologist Susan Cameron oversees the Bogue Inlet survey and all waterbird activities in the state. Cameron said the damage was probably not intentional.
“I doubt that this was a malicious act, but rather someone who just did not know any better,” she said.