2018 season is successful for nesting least terns and piping plovers

Each summer the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (Program) and its partners survey the river and off-channel nesting habitat to document least tern and piping plover abundance and productivity within the ( ) for the Program. Monitoring typically occurs from 1 May – 1 August; however, the monitoring season has been extended when least terns or piping plovers are known to be within the outside of this range of dates.

Similar to previous years, there was a good distribution of nests across off-channel sand and water (OCSW) and sandpit sites throughout the , but no in-channel nesting was observed during 2018. Numbers of breeding pairs observed during 2018 was high and similar to previous years when the Program ceased adding any more off-channel nesting habitat. 2018 was a successful year for least tern nests and chicks as 70% (78 of 112) of least tern nests hatched which resulted in an overall fledge ratio of 1.46 fledglings per breeding pair. Piping plover nests were highly successful as well with 74% (35 of 47) of nests hatching; however, chick success was poor which resulted in an all-time low of 0.65 fledglings per breeding pair for piping plovers.

Least tern and piping plover breeding pair counts and productivity, 2001-2018.

Breeding pair counts for both species were similar to the previous few years when the Program last made any substantial increases in the availability of off-channel nesting habitat (top plot).  While fledge ratios for least terns (middle plot) was high during 2018, piping plover chicks struggled which resulted in an all-time low fledge ratio for piping plovers (bottom plot).