Important Bird Areas

Pier 400 Tern Colony (formerly Terminal Island)

California

Not a natural island, but a 15.7 acre fenced area on Pier 400, part of Terminal Island, in the Los Angeles Harbor that is maintained, prepared and monitored annually by the Port of Los Angeles for the Least Tern. The nesting site was created, along with the entire Pier 400 peninsula, of material dredged from the Los Angeles Harbor from 1995 through 2003; the remained of Pier 400 is now a shipping container terminal. Like Brooks Island and Alameda NAS in San Francisco Bay, the site has been used by the Least Tern for nesting since it was created in 1997.

Updated December 2008

Ornithological Summary

With roughly 200 pairs in 2001, this site protects a significant proportion of the global population of California Least Tern. In addition to Least Terns, in previous years, Pier 400 was also used for nesting by Caspian Tern, Elegant Tern, Royal Tern, and Black Skimmer, some of which are California Species of Special Concern. These species nested within the Pier 400 IBA, as well as areas on dredge fill north of the Least Tern site prior to the paving of the container terminal. However, in late April 2005, Caspian and Elegant Terns abandoned their nests following a nocturnal predation event, believed to be an owl (three Elegant Tern carcasses were found the next day.) The birds failed to return that year or in subsequent years. In 2005, both species apparently relocated to Bolsa Chica (part of the Orange Coast Wetlands IBA), as evidenced by the subsequent increase in nest numbers there. The availability of nesting sites at Bolsa Chica has likely deterred their return to Pier 400 in current years. Caspian Terns and Elegant Terns, however, are often seen foraging in the Los Angeles Harbor. (K. Keane, via email.)

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Ownership

This man-made island is located within Los Angeles Harbor.

Habitat

Not a natural island, but a 15.7 acre fenced area on Pier 400, part of Terminal Island, in the Los Angeles Harbor that is maintained, prepared and monitored annually by the Port of Los Angeles for the Least Tern. The nesting site was created, along with the entire Pier 400 peninsula, of material dredged from the Los Angeles Harbor from 1995 through 2003; the remained of Pier 400 is now a shipping container terminal.