The Sooty Tern Colony
The current owners of Bird Island bought the Island in 1967 and began one of the world’s earliest ecotourism projects. Vital nesting sites for Sooty Terns were progressively cleared of overgrown coconut palms, enabling the 15,000 pairs of Sooty Terns that had been nesting on the island to grow to 700,000 pairs. Today, 1.5 million Sooty Terns are said to arrive to the island to nest.
Sooty Terns hover, in their tens of thousands, above their island sanctuary in March, before beginning to land in the colony at the northern end of the island throughout April and May. Laying begins in June where within a 10-day period about 90% of all the eggs in the colony will have been laid. After 28 to 30 days, the eggs hatch, and after a further 60 days, of being fed on fish and squid by their parents, the young Sooty Terns will have grown enough to be able to fly. The last of the juveniles fledge by the end of October.
Seeing the colony is a once in a lifetime opportunity – a truly breathtaking moment.