More than 30 elegant tern chicks rescued after being startled off nest

More than 30 seabird chicks are being cared for today by International Bird Rescue in San Pedro after being startled off their nesting site near Long Beach Harbor, possibly by boaters or fireworks over the Fourth of July weekend.

The elegant tern chicks were part of a large colony that nests on an anchored barge near Long Beach Harbor, according to International Bird Rescue. Rescuers said they may have been disturbed by boaters or fireworks, and new information is emerging. Further details were not immediately released, but the bird rescue said more elegant terns are en route to the facility.

“These young terns are in crisis right now and we will do our very best to help them,” said JD Bergeron, CEO of International Bird Rescue. “If you frequent the area, we invite you to take action by keeping an eye out for orphaned or injured birds.”

Elegant terns are common along the California coast, but International Bird Rescue said they have few nesting areas and are vulnerable to disturbances by people, pets and predators. In May, another colony of elegant terns were disturbed at Bolsa Chica Reserve, and 3,000 nesting parents abandoned their eggs. In 2006, more than 500 terns washed up on the Long Beach shore following a barge incident.

Rescuers say they need intensive rehabilitative care, as young terns stay close to their parents for up to six months as they learn to feed in the wild. Terns that are orphaned will require at least eight weeks of rehabilitative care before being released into the wild.

International Bird Rescue is seeking donations from the public to support the rehabilitation process. “We hope the public will help support the cost of these critical rescue efforts,” Bergeron said.

People can donate at birdrescue.org/help-terns.

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