Volume 46, No. 2

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Aleutian Tern Onychoprion aleuticus colony abandonment in response to Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus nest predation


1US Fish and Wildlife Service, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, 1390 Buskin River Road, Kodiak, Alaska 99615, USA (
2PO Box 970, Kodiak, Alaska, 99615, USA
3910 Steller Way, Kodiak, Alaska, 99615, USA


CORCORAN, R.M., STUDEBAKER, S. & MACINTOSH, R.A. 2018. Aleutian Tern Onychoprion aleuticus colony abandonment in response to Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus nest predation. Marine Ornithology 46: 113 - 115

Received 09 April 2018, accepted 30 May 2018

Date Published: 2018/10/15
Date Online: 2018/7/16
Key words: Aleutian Tern, Bald Eagle, colony abandonment, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Alaska, Onychoprion aleuticus


On 09 June 2016 we witnessed an attack by an adult Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus on one of the largest Aleutian Tern Onychoprion aleuticus colonies in the Kodiak Archipelago, Alaska; it resulted in complete colony abandonment. The Bald Eagle was accompanied by Black-billed Magpies Pica hudsonia, which scavenged nests destroyed by the eagle and appeared to depredate several nests. Based on nesting chronology determined from earlier surveys and on searches for nest contents remaining after the attack, we concluded that eggs were the primary target. We believe this is the first report of Bald Eagle predation on tern eggs leading to complete colony abandonment. Colony abandonment by Aleutian Terns mid-season has been reported previously, but causes of abandonment have not been identified.


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