Common TernSterna hirundo
13-16" (33-41 cm). White with black cap and pale gray back and wings. Bill red with black tip; tail deeply forked. Similar to Forster's Tern, but lacks frosty wing tip. See also Arctic Tern.
Kip-kip-kip; also tee-aar.
keearr calls #1
churring calls at net
kip alarm calls
keearr calls #2
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Lakes, ponds, rivers, coastal beaches, and islands.
Breeds in scattered colonies from Alberta and Labrador south to Montana, Great Lakes, and Caribbean. A common migrant along Pacific Coast. Winters from Florida to southern South America. Also in Eurasia.
A grasp of the field marks of other terns is best gained by comparison with this most common of the "sea swallows." It is a familiar sight on almost all large bodies of water where protected nesting sites exist. This bird flies gracefully over the water with deliberate wingbeats, head turned down at a right angle to the body. When it sights a fish or tadpole, it dives much like a booby to catch its aquatic prey. Sensitive to disturbance during the breeding season, whole colonies often fail to breed successfully because of disruption by humans; as a result, their numbers are slowly declining. They will attack human intruders in the nesting colonies, often striking them on the head with their bills.
2 or 3 spotted olive-buff eggs laid in a depression in sand or in a shallow cup of dead grass, located on sandy or pebbly beaches or open rocky places. Nests in colonies, most often on islands or isolated peninsulas.