Hey guys, welcome back. The Caspian tern is the largest tern species in the world. I have seen only one to date, and I’ll be honest, looking back I’m not 100% sure it was a Caspian tern. But it’s in the record books as one and could very likely be one. You see, this was the first tern I ever saw. I used its size as my main ID tool. The bill is also pretty large, red, and lacks a black tip. All that checked out. The Caspian tern, however, does not have a deeply forked tail, and as I sit here writing this, trying to remember a sighting I had over 4 years ago, my memory sees a more forked tail than should be the case. But memories have a tendency to not always be 100% reliable. I’ve seen dozens if not more terns since then, none were Caspian terns. I was positive that day on the beach, and ultimately, I have to go with what I recorded that day. I do remember comparing other terns to what I saw and if I was confident enough then, then I’m confident enough now.
Like other terns, the Caspian is a seabird and is often lumped in with gull species by non-birders as simply a “seagull.” Though often lumped with their beach cousins, terns are typically more sleek and aerodynamic looking, sporting more slender, and more pointed wings, and forked tails. Most have a black cap in breeding plumage, and rather than scavenge for garbage, they’re more at home hovering above the open water before diving head first to spear a fish. It’s actually a very cool sight. Caspian terns are highly defensive of their territory except when a bald eagle approaches. Their nests do run the risk of being robbed by nearby gulls. I look forward to seeing more Caspian terns, so I can put an absolute in front of their name on my list. Next up, the very cool red-headed woodpecker. See you all then!