Interior Least Terns and Piping Plovers naturally nest on sparsely vegetated midstream river sandbars. The lower Platte River is vitally important in supporting nesting Interior Least Terns and Piping Plovers. The amount of sandbar nesting habitat in the lower Platte River available to terns and plovers varies from year to year. Daily and seasonal fluctuations in the volume of water flowing in the river, annual amounts of rain, ice and snow, ground water levels, and river channel morphology all influence sandbar development and maintenance.
Each year we survey the 103 river miles of the lower Platte River for nesting terns and plovers by kayak. We try to visit each nesting colony at least once a week throughout the nesting season to search for new nests, determine nest fate, and band chicks.
Lower Platte River during the 2012 drought and tern and plover breeding season. Photo taken from Mahoney State Park Tower.
Lower Platte River during the 2009 tern and plover breeding season. Photo taken from Mahoney State Park Tower.
Banding a weighing 10 to 12 day old tern chicks on the river
Joel Jorgensen on the phone on a canoe on a river sandbar
The lower Platte River
Weighing and banding a Least Tern chick on a river sandbar
Lauren Dinan kayaking down the river in the mist
12-day-old tern chick on a river sandbar
Joel Jorgensen surveying the topography of a sandbar
Interior Least Tern nest on a sandbar