Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria may have an impact on endangered and threatened birds that nest in Nebraska.
Interior Least Terns and Piping Plovers come to the state to nest each summer, after spending most of the year along the Gulf coast, the southeast Atlantic coast states, and in the Caribbean.
Mary Bomberger Brown, research assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, serves as the coordinator of the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership.
She says if hurricanes destroyed the birds’ southern habitats, that could lead to a drop in their numbers.
“How they’re able to feed and their condition when they get back here impacts their condition in how reproductive and how many chicks they can rear, and then how healthy those little ones would be,” Bomberger Brown tells Nebraska Radio Network.
She knows some beaches where the birds go were destroyed.
“Hurricanes are not a new thing for them, so do they retreat inland or do they just fly across the other side of the Florida peninsula?” Bomberger Brown asks. “We don’t know what they do. My guess is that they move inland just like the humans do, but I don’t know that for sure.”
She says the terns and plovers will start returning to Nebraska in mid-April to lay their eggs this summer, and they will not know the full impact until the end of their nesting season.
“It will be interesting to see which of the birds do come back and how they are, how they’re doing,” she says.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:38]