2013 TernCam

Background

The solar powered video camera, with wireless internet connection, was placed near an Interior Least Tern (Sternula antillarum athalassos) nest in early June 2013. The nest the camera is focused on is one of seven at the site. There is one Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) nest located nearby. In 2011, several color-banded Piping Plovers from the Missouri River came to this site to nest after the nesting area they usually used was flooded.

TernCam is the brainchild of Ben Wheeler, a Coordinating Wildlife Biologist with Pheasants Forever and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Ben monitors the terns and plovers along the Loup River system in central Nebraska. TernCam is a solar powered video camera sporting a wireless internet connection that allows us to broadcast these images.

Least Tern Pair
Least Tern on TernCam 2012

The Story So Far...

A severe storm on June 21, 2013 with wind speeds of up to 75 mph hit our tern colony and TernCam was blown off the nest we were watching. Because of the storm, the nest failed due to damage by flying debris and thus a loss of the eggs. Some nests in the colony survived while others were lost. Fortunately, these losses occurred early enough in the nesting season that many of the adults were able to initiate new nests. TernCam was moved to a new nest on June 27, 2013; the new nest is located about 50 yards from the previous nest. This nest has 2 eggs which are expected to hatch sometime around July 20, 2013.

Keep watching to see the adults incubate their eggs and the chicks to appear. After hatching, terns only hang around the nest for a little while. The chicks grow rapidly and after a couple of days they will move away from the nest and find a shady spot to wait for their parents to bring them small fish to eat. It takes a lot of small fish to feed a family of tern chicks, so the adults will be busy. The adults will keep caring for their chicks until the little ones are ready to fly and feed themselves—about 3 weeks.

TernCam brought to the world with the help of:

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Previous TernCam

A video camera was placed near an Interior Least Tern nest in June and July of 2010. Three young terns hatched and were captured on still images via the TernCam. The remote camera was approximately 60-65 feet from the nest. It was powered by a solar panel and used a wireless internet connection. The TernCam started as an idea of Ben Wheeler, who monitors Interior Least Terns and Piping Plovers in the Loup River area around Ord, Nebraska. In 2012 the camera watched a nest on the North Loup River.

TernCam Side View 2010

Side view of the camera mounting. Camera is at the top of the image.

TernCam Back View

Back view of the camera mounting. The solar panel faced south for maximum exposure to the sun.