Distribution, colony characteristics, and population status of least terns breeding on the Texas coast.
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Seasonal movements, colony site selection, and population status of the least tern (Sterna albifrons) were studied throughout the Texas coast during 1979-81. Leg bands were applied to 1,044 terns of which 426 also received patagial tags. Physical features of 39 colonies were analyzed to discern important aspects of site selection. Reproductive parameters were estimated from data for 646 nests and 126 confined young in 13 colonies. Post-fledgling survival was estimated from previous U.S. band recovery data. Demographic status was evaluated. Total breeding population was estimated from coastwide, 1-day counts in early August. All age classes moved toward Gulf beaches by mid- to late summer, and concentration areas were found commonly near jetties or natural channels. Fall migration was southward along Gulf beaches.