The site consists of three small, rocky islands (Little Island, Long
Island, and Wantry Island) in western Oneida Lake. Little Island and
Long Island are administered by the New York State Department of
Transportation. Wantry Island is privately owned.
Common Terns have nested on islands in Oneida Lake since at least the
1930?s. In 1982, approximately 400 pairs nested here; in 2003, there were
449 pairs. In 1997, there were 264 pairs of Double-crested Cormorants,
846 pairs of Ring-billed Gulls, 50 pairs of Herring Gulls, and one pair
of Great Black-backed Gulls breeding at the site. At Sylvan/Verona
Beach on the east end of the lake, there are migrating Bonaparte?s
Gulls, and post-breeding foraging sites for about 250 Common Terns.
Areas of the lake that thaw in early spring can attract thousands of
ducks. In mid- to late May, thousands of Brant and White-winged
Scoters migrate along the lake early in the morning, having probably
used the lake as a nighttime stopover location.
A major issue in maintaining Common Tern breeding sites is preventing
Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed Gulls from establishing
nests in preferred tern nesting areas before the terns return in the
spring. New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit staff
have made efforts to prevent the gulls from nesting in certain areas,
including installation of temporary monofilament gull exclusion grids,
and gull nest removal under federal and state permits. In recent years,
most successful Common Tern nesting activity has occurred on Little
Island. However, starting in 2003, Common Terns have displayed a
renewed interest in re-populating Wantry and Long Islands. Biologists
with the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit have
worked to promote the expansion of tern nesting areas to these islands,
using tern decoys and audio recordings. As most colonial nesting birds
are sensitive to human disturbance and intrusion into nesting colonies,
this should be prevented during the breeding season. Monitoring of
Common Tern colonies should continue.