Least Tern at Conejohela Flats, Lancaster County, PA
This Least Tern was one of four found by Tom Amico and Bob Schutsky on June 23 at the Conejohela Flats in Lancaster County.
Tom and Bob were fortunate enough to observe the birds engaging in courtship displays, including wing spreading and prey sharing,
on the afternoon of the 23rd. The next day, Tom Johnson and I were very pleased to refind two of the birds at the flats, and
though we didn't note any courtship behaviors, they were very actively feeding and calling.
This species appears in Pennsylvania perhaps slightly more often than once every other year, with many records from the
lower Susquehanna in spring or summer. So although this summer's appearance of Least Terns at the flats is far from unprecedented,
it has been long hoped that a pair or two would one day settle down on the flats for a season and nest. Least Terns have been
known to breed in Pennsylvania only twice, in 1960 and 1961 in the vicinity of Tinicum on the Delaware River. It's probably
too late in this season to hope that these birds will be the first to make a breeding attempt in the 47 years since, but it
is worth keeping close tabs on them nonetheless, especially considering the second Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas effort