[texbirds] RF Least Tern age confirmation - of SY (pikei) incubating eggs

  • From: MBB22222@xxxxxxx
  • To: texbirds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2012 08:33:36 -0400 (EDT)

Hi all, 
Although I do not have doubts that LETE presented in photos is in  pikei 
plumage (so can be aged as 1 year old individual) but  I would like to hear 
from anybody who  might see any valid reason to think that this bird can be an 
older than one  year.   
Atwood  and Massey  (1981) (The Pikei  Plumage of the Least Tern 
(http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/JFO/v053n01/p0047-p0047.pdf) )  corrected their 
former notes ( Massey and 
Atwood  (1978) Plumages of the Least Tern.  
‘’As a result of ongoing research on the endangered California  
population, we have now obtained a minimum of 11 recoveries of color-banded,  
known-aged Least Terns in pikei plumage, and all have been one year of age.  
Furthermore, of at least 40 known 2-year-olds which have now been recovered  
the breeding range, all have acquired full definitive alternate (nuptial)  
plumage with no evident tendencies toward pikei  characters.” 
Also they ( Massey and Atwood, 1978) noted  that: 
“Such birds have often appeared later in the season, after nesting  has 
begun. Although they have sometimes engaged in courtship behavior, these  
individuals have not been observed actually  breeding.” 
“We saw no evidence that any bird in portlandica or pikei plumage  was 
actively engaged in breeding” 
See those papers for more details. 
Evident reason for my request is that I want to eliminate any  possibility 
(if there is one) of misidentify age of this Least Tern that seems  to be a 
first record (to my best knowledge) of 1 year old LETE breeding. I  
photographed the incubating pair on June 22. I presume that bird in pikei  
was a female based on general behavior and a possibility that it look  like 
it might still  have another  egg to be lay soon.  Unfortunately  the nest 
was destroyed during next few days, possible by car run over it, loose  dogs 
running on the beach or people stepping on it, or even picking up the eggs.  
Yes, I do have documentation (photos) of people collecting LETE eggs in this 
 area – I am sure they cannot even imagine how detailed photo can be taken 
with  long lens from far away.  
Here are a few photos of the nest and pikei LETE that was  incubating eggs 
Including photo that could suggests one more unlaid egg still  inside tern’
s body.  
And few more can be found here: 
BTW below is a link to my photos taken 3 years ago when I  documented  
first record of LETE  pikei female courting and copulating but was unable to  
locate the nest, if there was one at that  time. So it took me additional 3 
years to find LETE pikei nesting. Both records  are from June but I have 
records of 1 year old LETEs coming together with adults  in first spring 
migration waves (both portlandica and pikei).   
Thanks in advance for sharing your  opinions, 
Mark B Bartosik 
Houston, Texas 

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  • » [texbirds] RF Least Tern age confirmation - of SY (pikei) incubating eggs - MBB22222