Least terns like the ones pictured here were spotted in the Malibu Lagoon for the first time in over 70 years. (Photo courtesy Google Images)

Least terns like the ones pictured here were spotted in the Malibu Lagoon for the first time in over 70 years. (Photo courtesy Google Images)

MALIBU — An endangered California bird species is nesting in the Malibu Lagoon for the first time in decades.

The state Department of Parks and Recreation says it’s the first documented nesting of California least terns at the lagoon in 73 years.

The species is federally listed as endangered, and there are only two other nesting locations in Los Angeles County.

The California least tern population has been reduced because of increasing development. The parks department says the vulnerable birds are also trampled by people or eaten by other animals.

The birds hunt in shallow areas where there are plenty of small fish, often near the shore.

Park staff will be working with county officials to monitor the nests and keep beachgoers and their pets out of the closed-off area.

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