Super-fliers, the Arctic tern, the topic of final Fireside

The super-flier of the world — the Arctic tern — will be highlighted at the final Fireside Lecture of the season at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center tonight. Expert Gwen Baluss will be presenting.

Each year the terns return to their nesting grounds near the Mendenhall Glacier. And each year, Baluss keeps track of the glacier’s colony and studies the birds that winter in Antarctica.

According to a release on the lecture, Arctic terns migrate great distances from Antarctica or South America to breed in the Arctic. Juneau is one of the farthest south locations for nesting. Because these terns are ground nesters, their habitat needs protection from people, dogs and predators. These birds have unique flight patterns, courtship rituals and family behaviors. Arctic terns are slim, pointy-winged gull-like birds who also tend their speckled eggs and fuzzball chicks with great tenderness. They hover above the shallow ponds then plunge into the water to pluck out tiny fish to feed the offspring that totter around the sandbars between clumps of lupine and grass.

As with all Fireside Lectures, this event is free and open to the public. The lecture will begin at 6:30 p.m. and repeat at 8 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.

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