Parallax View

BARNEGAT BAY –ParallaxHere’s a program from our archives.ambience: Tern chicks, adult sea birds All summer long, the beaches of the New Jersey sea shore are filled with vacationers seeking sun and relaxation. But for another part-time New Jersey resident, it’s a season of hard work. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Each summer the salt marshes of New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay attract thousands of migrating sea birds, among them a small bird with a light body and dark head named the Common Tern. Well, this month, a new generation of Common Tern chicks are learning to dive for food– a tougher challenge than you might have guessed.Joanna Burger is a professor of biology at Rutgers University.Burger: Unlike most birds that people see in their backyards like Robins and Starlings and such, sea birds feed their young for several months after they fledge. And that’s largely because it’s very difficult for a Tern to learn how to catch fish. Most sea birds have very difficult foraging behaviors. Common Terns have to catch fish that are seen below the water and not only do they have to find the schools of fish and see the school of fish underneath the water, but the young Tern has to learn that when you see a fish in a particular place in the water, it isn’t actually there. It’s displaced slightly. It’s the same thing as if you put a stick in the water. A straight broom handle for example. Once it hits the water it’s curved slightly, but you know that it hasn’t curved the handle. It’s actually straight down. And that’s what happens with the fish. The young Terns have to learn where the fish is compared to where it looks like. So for a very long time they dive into the water but they miss the fish completely.Well, the chicks had better learn fast, because next month they’ll be taking off for a journey of over 2,000 miles as they begin their winter migration to South America. Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner. You’ve been listening to a program from our archives.

Parallax View

Fledgling seabirds must the trick of catching fish beneath the surface of the water.
Air Date:07/21/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

BARNEGAT BAY --ParallaxHere's a program from our archives.ambience: Tern chicks, adult sea birds All summer long, the beaches of the New Jersey sea shore are filled with vacationers seeking sun and relaxation. But for another part-time New Jersey resident, it's a season of hard work. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Each summer the salt marshes of New Jersey's Barnegat Bay attract thousands of migrating sea birds, among them a small bird with a light body and dark head named the Common Tern. Well, this month, a new generation of Common Tern chicks are learning to dive for food-- a tougher challenge than you might have guessed.Joanna Burger is a professor of biology at Rutgers University.Burger: Unlike most birds that people see in their backyards like Robins and Starlings and such, sea birds feed their young for several months after they fledge. And that's largely because it's very difficult for a Tern to learn how to catch fish. Most sea birds have very difficult foraging behaviors. Common Terns have to catch fish that are seen below the water and not only do they have to find the schools of fish and see the school of fish underneath the water, but the young Tern has to learn that when you see a fish in a particular place in the water, it isn't actually there. It's displaced slightly. It's the same thing as if you put a stick in the water. A straight broom handle for example. Once it hits the water it's curved slightly, but you know that it hasn't curved the handle. It's actually straight down. And that's what happens with the fish. The young Terns have to learn where the fish is compared to where it looks like. So for a very long time they dive into the water but they miss the fish completely.Well, the chicks had better learn fast, because next month they'll be taking off for a journey of over 2,000 miles as they begin their winter migration to South America. Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner. You've been listening to a program from our archives.