A few days ago, Percy Hanley, bird enthusiast, received a call from the airport authorities that there we several birds nesting the airport tarmac, and asked him if he could identify the birds and if anything could be done to move or relocate the nests.
After investigating, a few Black-necked stilts and about a dozen Least Turns were observed to have laid their eggs and airport authorities were concerned for the safety of the aircraft in the first instance, and the birds in general.
There were about 4 nests by Black-Necked Stilts. He looked at the eggs in two nests. One had 4 eggs and the other had 3. The birds collected pebbles from the tarmac and built the nests. The other type of bird is Least Terns. There were about a dozen of them maybe more. They were not as meticulous as the stilts. They simply laid their egg(s) on the bare tarmac, no “nest”. Some were a bit cleverer, finding holes or cracks in the concrete and they used that as a ready-made “nest”. The light colored spotted eggs are those of the terns. In one of the photos you can see one of the terns sitting on its eggs and in the back ground you can see two eggs from another bird which had taken to the air momentarily.
In 1985, the Least Tern was listed as an endangered species, and although the numbers have been increasing steadily, it is still a concern.
The Black-necked Stilt is an abundant species of shorebird found through multiple wetlands and coastlines. We have e-mailed several websites and birding experts for guidance but have not received any concrete suggestions to date.
Our feeling is just to leave them as is, if it is felt that the birds pose no major problem to airplanes. Of course, the airport authorities will have the final say in the matter.
All pictures have been provided by the kind courtesy of Percy Hanley.
UPDATE: As at June 5, 2012, some of the nests for the Least Terns have 4 eggs now, and many of the nests for the Black-necked Stilts also have 4 eggs each, as the nesting continues!