Hey guys welcome back. And Happy Valentine’s Day to those of you out there that care enough to celebrate. I’ll be doing so by heading to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for a lecture about one of my favorite bird genera, the corvids (crow, jays, ravens, etc.)
Today is our second tern species, the aptly named common tern, as they are fairly common! Typically seen throughout the US (on both sides of the Rockies, but not in the Rockies), common terns breed up in Canada but can be seen in the US throughout the summer season. Common terns are smaller than the last tern species we talked about (the caspian tern) but superficially look very similar. The common tern has a deeper forked tail than the caspian, a black cap, and reddish orange bill (unlike the very similar Forster’s tern which has a more yellow-orange bill.) Like other seabirds, the common tern is often lumped in as a “seagull” by non birders, and while they will enjoy some beach fare from time to time, they are much more likely to stick to diving for fish in open waters.
Like many seabirds, the common tern as special nasal glands that excrete excess salt, enabling them to effectively filter out the salt from the water they drink. If we could all do that as easily, maybe drinking water wouldn’t be at such a premium! Haha! terns are compact birds with very long, pointed, aerodynamic wings. The common tern’s body is only about 15 inches long, but their wingspan is two and a half feet, double the length of their body. Pretty impressive. Next up, we head back to the heron family. See you then!