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Climate and Environment

International Bird Rescue Center Saves 50 Tern Chicks Who Fell Overboard

Four small terns inside a glass incubator stand on a striped cloth.
Rescued tern chicks are being cared for by International Bird Rescue.
(Courtesy International Bird Rescue)
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More than 50 elegant tern chicks that fell out of their nest on a barge in Long Beach will be spending the next weeks being nursed back to health.

Elegant terns are those white seabirds with long, narrow beaks and distinctive black feathers on their heads. Those are the same kind of birds that were forced to abandon thousands of nests in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve, when an amateur drone crashed there back in May.

Kylie Clatterbuck with the International Bird Rescue Center in San Pedro says they think the chicks in Long Beach may have been scared off the barge by loud boaters or fireworks going off around the 4th of July weekend.

"You know unfortunately these birds are so young that they're unable to fly, so once they fall off the barges they're unable to get back up," Clatterbuck explained. "And because they're not fully grown they don't have the feather structure that we're used to seeing with a lot of our seabirds that helps them to be waterproof in the water."

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Clatterbuck says the birds will probably need about six weeks of care before they've developed enough to survive on their own. That's about the same amount of time that elegant terns typically spend with their parents learning how to feed in the wild.

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