The Sooty’s Have Arrived

Debra Hess
Yankee Freedom II Naturalist

Recent excitement about the annual arrival of Sooty Terns for the 2008 breeding season were realized on Wednesday, January 30, 2008. The arrival of the Yankee Freedom II to Dry Tortugas National Park docks that Wednesday coincided with a sky darkened by thousands of Sooty Terns, swooping over Bush Key, and calling enthusiastically in mating bliss. The birds commence egg laying immediately, and by early February chicks should hatch and adult parents will scramble in a fish catching frenzy to feed the chicks.

Sooty TernsSooty TernSooty Egg

Magnificent Frigatebirds are also in a mating way- nest building and courtship displays are common sightings in the mangroves of Long Key. Peregrine Falcon sightings are also on the rise. Brown Noody Terns are also arriving for nest building on Bush Key. Herring Gulls are busy predating Sooty eggs on Bush Key, and a Greater Black Backed Gull was observed on Bush Key on February 11, 2008.

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