Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Forster’s Tern

In Minnesota, Forster’s Terns are more common than Common Terns. They are local breeders in the west and northern southeast areas of the state (Eckert). They also breed elsewhere in the Upper Great Plains and Great Basin, and also in northern California and the Gulf Coast. This photo is from the Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Aberdeen, South Dakota. In our region, they breed in fresh water, marshy wetlands. The species is adaptable to changing environmental conditions and is able to switch nesting marshes in times of drought (Mcnicholl et al. 2001).

Identification marks to look for include their white-edged flight feathers and upper wing coverts, the orange-yellow bill, and their tail, which sticks out beyond the wingtips. Be careful for juvenile and first-winter Forster’s Terns, which sport darker primaries than do adults and, thus, can be mistaken for Common Terns.

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