Hey guys, welcome back. Wow, it’s September already! This year is really flying by, while at the same time feeling like it’s lasting forever! Well, today we have another tern species; the least tern. The least tern is the smallest North American tern; only a little larger than a blue jay. Like many other terns, this seabird typically doesn’t stray far from the ocean, although it will follow major waterbodies like the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes inland from time to time.
It might seem its small stature would be the best way to tell them apart from other species like the common tern, or the Forster’s tern. And while that does help, there is actually another, fairly easy way to ID them. First off, adult least terns have a yellow bill unlike most other terns who have either an orange or red one. Additionally, they have a small white triangle on their forehead where other terns have an all black cap. These are for sure the most defining features of the least tern. To date, I’ve only seen these little guys once, and it was at a distance. One showed up here in Ohio this past spring, but I didn’t go chasing it. They prefer to lay their eggs on sand, but will occasionally use flat rooftops, the tar from which doesn’t always make for the best of environments. Next up we have another least; the least sandpiper. See you all then!
I had a pleasant surprise this summer when I observed one pretty far inland in Walton County, Georgia. When I saw it I knew it was something different and kind of out of place. Thanks for the species write up! William
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