Time to fly..
Royal Terns mature from hatchlings to fledglings, ready to fly in about 30 days. In about 60-90 days they are on their own. This short span of time seems incredibly fast. They have an incredible designer and maker though. Imagine human babies doing all this in about six months vice 18-25 years (yet I have seen a lot of 30-40 year olds that have not matured much from childhood) .
Although I was only gone a week to Maine, I was surprised how many young Royal Terns were flying instead of walking from the dunes to the surf zone each morning. The fledgling Terns still require being fed by the parents. However, it won’t be long before they are fishing and feeding on their own. Another successful breeding season is coming to an end for the Royal Terns. Another successful robbery season is coming to an end for the Laughing Gulls! When the Royals leave they will have to catch their own food instead of stealing it (now I know why so many Laughing Gulls are then found at the shopping malls stealing food from the local eateries). Life in the dunes is tough. One of the daily duties of the park employees is cleaning up deceased chicks. Here again nature has its own way of dealing with this. Dark ominous shadows flew over the nesting ground. The Turkey Vultures had arrived to see how many chicks didn’t make it through the day and were soon fighting over the spoils. Such is the circle of life in the dunes.
On a more cheerful note, a newly hatched Royal Tern scampered down the dunes with adults in pursuit trying to keep up with the little tyke. This late hatchling was hungry and looking to be fed and made haste to join “the big kids”. It made me smile. Hope you do too! Blessings