A seabird specialist has some advice for people walking near a small colony of terns in the middle of St. John's: walk softly and carry a small stick.

The terns, which are better known for being seen in oceans and wetlands, have been nesting on the roof of an abandoned Dominion supermarket on Ropewalk Lane. The property's owner, Loblaw, has opted to leave the property undeveloped.

The birds have been diving at pedestrians in the area.

Memorial University professor Bill Montevecchi said it's unusual for terns to set up house in such a place, but people can easily deter them.

He recommended carrying a small stick, and hoisting it if a tern comes near.

"You can hold a stick over your head, and a bird will never come lower than the stick, if that gives people a bit more comfort," Montevecchi said Wednesday.

"That's an option."

Montevecchi said rather than get upset about the seabirds, people should instead accept them. He said he was pleased to see them around the city.

The terns aren't the only winged creatures that have been known to dive at pedestrians lately. This spring, crows were swooping near people outside the Anglican Cathedral in downtown St. John's.