Terns Abandon 2,000 Eggs After Illegal Drone Crash Scares Them Away

Illegal drone usage resulted in mother terns abandoning 2,000 eggs in a protected hatching area in California.

According to Orange County Register, the incident happened after two drones flew above the hatching area, causing the mother birds to spook and take flight.

One of the drones ended up crashing in the Bolsa Chica wetlands near Anaheim, and the other drove flew too close to the nests in the same area, scaring the mother terns from their nests.

Photo: flickr/Corey Seeman

Both illegal flights took place on May 13, 2021, and only one drone pilot has been cited.

According to the news outlet, one drone operator actually came forward and admitted his crime. However, the second drone operator has reminded silent and they’ve yet to identify who it was.

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Speaking with the outlet, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Nick Molsberry, said, “It’s ironic. Drone owners are attracted by the nesting colonies of birds, and then their actions destroy it.”

Photo: flickr/Michelle Kinsey Bruns

Commons terns are a “species of concern,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. With their populations seeing a steady decline, it’s important to implement conservation efforts now to stabilize their numbers.

As such, the abandoned eggs are an incredibly hard blow to conservationists who work tirelessly to fight against population declines.


May this serve as an important warning to others that protected areas are protected for a reason.

It’s important to always follow posted rules and regulations regarding conservation efforts for the safety of the wildlife.

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