The Bermuda Audubon Society is the new owner of Pearl Island, a small islet in the Great Sound used as a nesting site by the Common Tern.

The society has enjoyed a rent-free lease of the Great Sound island since 1969, and now trustees of the Dudley Butterfield estate have turned it over to the organization completely.

“When sailing around the Great Sound my father delighted in saying he’d bought [Pearl Island] for five pounds,” said trustee Jim Butterfield.

“Now it is of very little use to anyone other than the birds and navigational aid. By giving it to the Audubon Society, everyone is a winner.”

Andrew Dobson, President of the Bermuda Audubon Society, said: “The small islet…is barely one-quarter of an acre, but has been managed by the Society for its value as a tern-nesting site.

“This fine gesture by members of the Butterfield family provides a guaranteed sanctuary for the Common Tern.

“The island also hosts a navigational beacon, and the society is grateful to the Department of Marine and Ports for their careful use of this island.”

The common tern is Bermuda’s rarest breeding seabird and requires rocky coastal sites away from cats, rats and human disturbances, said Dobson.

He added that Pearl Island has been a successful breeding site for many years in a time when fewer sites than ever are available.