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Flying drones over Bolsa Chica cause thousands of terns to abandon eggs

June 4, 2021

[Posted by Chuck Almdale]

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is well known among SoCal birders for the many birds wintering there, but the big numbers show up in the spring when the terns come to nest. I believe that as many as ten species of tern have appeared there, although not all nest. Some just drop by because they see so many other terns coming and going.

Readers of our blog know that flying helicopter drones is illegal in many places—all of Malibu for starters, and State Parks as well. Yet people break these laws daily. They always claim ignorance, but when you tell them it’s illegal and they shouldn’t do it, they often tell you where to go in no uncertain terms. So it’s not just ignorance that’s at work here.

In May several drones were seen flying over the Bolsa Chica nesting area. One crashed, and authorities are tracking down the owner. Apparently this spooked the birds so badly that nests were abandoned—some reports say 1,500 nests, some say 2,000, others say 3,000—and the nesting sands are littered with broken eggshells.

Here’s a link to an AP story on the US News website:

Some 3,000 elegant tern eggs were abandoned at a Southern California nesting island after a drone crashed and scared off the birds.

And another on the local Daily News website, which may or may not be accessible to you.

Lastly, the New York Times from June 4.

One Comment
  1. Aurelio Albaisa permalink
    June 5, 2021 10:47 am

    Yes, drones, dogs, and bikes are illegal at those sites, But no one is enforcing the law


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