Birds on the Islands
Field surveys have identified more than 200 bird species including gulls, terns, herons, ducks, geese, hawks, plovers, sandpipers, doves, owls, woodpeckers, and perching birds. During migration, large numbers of shorebirds utilize the mudflats and salt marshes around the harbor, while transient hawks and songbirds regularly make use of the more remote islands, or those with suitable habitat. In late fall and winter, great flocks of waterfowl gather in harbor waters.
Inventory & Monitoring
What Happened to the Terns on Lovells Island?
Historically, Lovells Island supported a breeding colony of Least Terns (Sternula antillarum), but during the 2007 breeding season the colony suffered a complete decimation. Volunteer monitors noticed that some nests had been attacked by predators. In an effort to uncover the culprit, motion sensing and infrared detection remote cameras were set near the nesting area, where scientists placed dummy nests baited with domestic quail eggs. It appears both mammalian and avian species, including American Crow, rats and European Rabbits were identified as nest destroyers and predators. The terns did not return to Lovells in 2008 or 2009, but in July 2010, scientists counted 35 Least Tern nests. On August 1, 2010, 10 fledglings were counted near the nests. The colony was active in 2011 with 75 nests detected in June, and in July there were 35 adults, several chicks and fledglings spotted, suggesting good productivity. In 2012, a colony returned in early June, but nests were washed away in a storm. Despite a second attempt at nesting, the colony was unsuccessful.
Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation is working to improve Least Tern habitat on Lovells Island. In early April 2013, the park's Stewardship Saturday crew and volunteers from State Street worked to clear the beach of vegetation, making it more hospitable for the nesting pairs.