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  • Giorgos Pismisis

Thousands of Birds Forced to Leave Their Nests Due to Drone

Α drone led to an ecological disaster as thousands of Elegant Terns (species of birds who live in the Pacific coasts of the southern United States and Mexico and leave in winter to the south by flying to Peru, Ecuador and Chile) left their nests on a quiet California beach.

Thousands of Elegant Tern eggs abandoned in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. (Photo: California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Although it has been said many times before, drones are an important tool for taking pictures, but they can create significant problems; Especially when it comes to wildlife and nature. A drone can lead to disaster, just as it did at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in California. There, two drones fell from the sky onto a beach where thousands of birds nested, namely slender terns (Elegant Tern), causing the birds to panic and leave their nests in the sand, leaving behind more than 1,500 eggs! On the ground were the illegal drones, which had crashed. The birds did not return, abandoning around 1,500 sand nests, each holding one or two eggs.

According to the Bolsa Chica Conservancy, which is a volunteer-driven, non-profit organization dedicated to education in coastal ecology, wetland science, and environmental sustainability, “A couple weeks ago, thousands of Elegant Terns were lost when 2 drones crashed by Tern Island. It is believed that the nesting terns left the eggs they were incubating in a response to the threat that the drones posed. This has never happened at such a large scale at the reserve.”

"In my career, I have never seen such a catastrophe, it was very difficult," said Melissa Loebl, executive director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve of California is home to more than 800 species of plants and animals, where drone flights are prohibited.

This event is similar to an episode in 2020 when a pilot flew his drone over flamingos in the wetland of Agios Mama, endangering the colony of birds, which last year gave birth to the first flamingos in Greece.

This event is just another reminder of the responsibility of drone owners to use their drones safely and responsibly.

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