Common Tern

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.

Common Tern2
Common tern hovering, looking for fish, Maidstone Park, East Hampton, NY

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!

One thought on “Common Tern

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  1. Ha ha, I can just see it… “Happy Valentines Day! What are you doing tonight?” “I’m headed to the natural history museum for a lecture on crows. Want to join me?” LOL I think that’s great. I’ll refrain from my usual tirade on stupid holidays concocted by the commercial card, flower and gift industry. (Although I’m sure there’s a good blog out there on the true origins of Valentine’s Day). Anyway, read this comment with my tongue-in-cheek, joking attitude in mind. I’m not computer savvy enough to add a bunch if emojis!

    I loved watching the Royal Terns on my last trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I need to read more to figure what the males were up to when they squawked face to face with each other. Great blog! Thanks for writing! William

    Liked by 1 person

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