[Update: The Least Terns have left. Read our updated story here.]
The revitalization efforts over at Malibu Lagoon seem to be paying off. A colony of endangered birds, the California least tern, have been documented nesting at the beach, a first for the state park in 73 years.
The terns are migratory seabirds that breed primarily along the California coast, but their population has declined as habitat was lost to development and recreational spots, as well as predation by other animals, native and non-native alike. In Los Angeles County, only two other nesting sites exist: Venice Beach and the Port of L.A.
California State Parks staff will be monitoring the nesting site and keeping beachgoers out of the fenced exclosure that has been set up to protect the birds. Particular attention will be paid to keeping all dogs off the beach because the nests are extremely vulnerable to trampling and predation.
The presence of the birds come nearly a month after the public unveiling of the new lagoon, an $8 million effort that has attracted lawsuits and angry protests. The 31-acre bay sits at the end of Malibu Creek at Malibu's Surfrider Beach, which gets about 1.5 million visitors a year.
Read more about Malibu Lagoon at KCET Departures.