The tiniest of terns feeds her chick

August 14, 2014, 1:13 p.m.
least tern with chick

A California least tern feeds a growing chick

California least terns are the smallest of the American tern species, and can be found along the southern coasts of the United States. Because they love to nest along sandy beaches, which are a prized commodity among humans, their nesting habitat is continually shrinking, polluted, and disturbed by human activity. The species has been listed as endangered for decades and with the protected status, numbers have very slowly increased from the mere 582 breeding pairs counted in 1974. These tiny terns are only about 9 inches long when fully grown. While they spend their breeding months along the California coast, it isn't actually known where they go to winter.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Google+, and Facebook.