News happening around Little Rock Air Force Base

News Search

News

Endangered bird spotted on base

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- It's not that often people say they've seen an endangered bird on base. In fact, it's never been said - until now.
James Popham, the Little Rock Air Force Base Natural Resources manager, was conducting an inspection recently of the Canadian geese that like to take up temporary residence on the base when he saw something else.
"I saw this bird and thought it was (the Least Tern), but I needed to make sure," he said.
The Least Tern is currently on the endangered species list due to changes or elimination of its natural habitat and the disruption of the nesting areas from people and animals, according to Lindsey Lewis, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist.
After identifying the tern had taken up residence on the base, Mr. Popham went to the Fish and Wildlife Service for confirmation.
But what was the big deal that a few birds were living on the base?
"This discovery is interesting for a strange reason that most people wouldn't expect," said Mr. Lewis. "We believe that it is an indication of habitat decline on the Arkansas River. Birds migrate up river looking for nesting habitat and when they can't find that habitat there they start looking elsewhere. Along the gulf coast and in Texas Least Terns have been observed nesting on flat gravel roof topped buildings in areas where habitat has substantially declined. We believe this is the first indication of Least Tern doing so in Arkansas."
Having the terns nest on the base rooftops causes problems for both the birds and the people that live and work here.
"Roof tops have been documented to be poor habitats and typically have poor nest success; however, the Terns apparently see any habitat as better than no habitat. Roof tops are often too hot, prone to flash flood, and young birds unable to fly and not understanding that they are on an elevated building have been known to run over the side while fleeing predators or people." People are also at risk by being surprised by the birds when getting onto the roof tops.
Rooftop access is for trained maintenance personnel, for the safety of everyone and everything involved, said Mr. Popham.
While the traditional nesting season is over for the Terns, who should have flown to South America for the winter, people are being asked to not disturb the small birds if they come across them.
"It is unlikely that anyone would encounter the birds before or after this period of time (May-August), but if they do they should notify the natural resources manager and avoid disturbing or harming the birds," said Mr. Lewis.
As to future sightings of the birds, Mr. Lewis thinks it might not be the last time.
"There is no way to know if they will continue to visit this area, if this was a one time event, or if their numbers and use of this area will increase, ... (but) if I had to guess, I would say that we may see them there for the next few years until habitat is restored and improved along the Arkansas River," he said.
Editor's note: If you have seen the Least Tern, report the sighting to Mr. Popham at 987-3681 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 501-513-4470.

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.

Photo Gallery: Week in Review