Fairy Terns (Sternula nereis) are currently listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN). This means that these birds are threatened with extinction, unless the circumstances that are threatening their survival and reproduction improve. And guess what… they can be found right here in our Peel-Harvey Estuary!
Fairy Terns, along with Little Terns (Sternula albifrons), are Australia’s smallest Terns. Measuring approximately 250mm from their bill to the tip of their tail, they are about half the size of a common Silver Gull. Fairy Terns choose to migrate to Mandurah from late spring to early summer, with colonies establishing, breeding and nesting during this time. Unfortunately, as a result of urban development and human activity there are few remaining suitable breeding locations in Mandurah for Fairy Terns.
An ongoing threat for the Fairy Tern is disturbance around their nesting sites. Breeding pairs can be disturbed by dogs off leads, noise, rubbish or erosion issues that all come with inappropriate or inconsiderate use of the estuary foreshores. Recreational use of our estuary is a privilege and we should experience it with care and consideration to the birds that come to breed here. Fairy Terns breed here between September and February each year. If they feel that their nesting sites are unsafe, they will abandon them which can be detrimental to breeding success.
We are urging visitors to our estuary to be aware of their impact, keep dogs on the leads and consider bird activity within our precious wetlands and fringing foreshores. These areas are important food habitats and can be highly valuable breeding sites. We can all do our part to help support the populations of Fairy Terns, as well as other migratory shorebirds and waders, visiting our precious Ramsar 482 site.
Our ‘Wetlands and People’ project is delivered through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program