Road closed for birds

August 08, 2008 at 09:37 AM

At first flooding caused Odd Fellow Road near Jacob.

But after the floodwaters subsided, the Jackson County road remained closed for an unusual reason: bird nests.

Federally endangered least terns decided to nest on the gravel road and Southern Illinoisan outdoor scribe Les Winkeler reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to keep the road closed to protect the birds.Illinois Outdoors

Terns typically nest on sandbars, but due to high water apparently moved elsewhere. Writes Winkeler:

According to a statement released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the terns chose the roads for two reasons—the road surfaces were above water and small, pea-size gravel was readily available.

Least terns are ground nesters, much like kildeer. They push rocks together to form a small cavity in which to lay their eggs.

Although the least tern regularly nests in Southern Illinois, they aren’t frequently spotted.

That was enough to attract Rhonda Rothrock of Pomona, pictured at right looking for terns.

The road will likely remain closed through September. Also closed through August is Swan Pond Road.

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