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Common Tern

Sterna hirundo

Description:

Common Tern in breeding plumage.

Habitat:

Longboat Key south of Broadway access.

21 Comments

dcslaugh
dcslaugh 5 years ago

That's very nice of you to say, Claire! I met John yesterday actually! He is a nice man! We'll see what he has to say. :)

ceherzog
ceherzog 5 years ago

Good find! Stu will show the pics to John Ginaven (the guy who saw the Arctic) and if he thinks ARTE is a possibility, I'll let you know.

dcslaugh
dcslaugh 5 years ago

Based on his comments about the beak, I'm going with Common Tern. However, I still feel privileged that I actually saw something that was uncommon at the time :)

dcslaugh
dcslaugh 5 years ago

He said...
Separating breeding-plumaged Common (COTE) from Arctic (ARTE) Terns based on a single photograph (or two) is challenging. In May, a COTE on LBK would be considered uncommon, while an ARTE would be downright rare, at best. Most of the Arctic Terns we see locally (one or two over a 5-yr span) appear in the fall (John had one on the north end of LBK a couple of weeks ago... the first locally in a couple of years that I'm aware of). I checked my personal records and I did have several COTEs on Siesta Beach on 19May2015 (I've never seen an ARTE in Florida). So the gist of this discussion is that COTE is much more likely in May on a local beach.

The photos do show what appears to be a petite bill and a full black cap, each of these features favoring ARTE. However, the bill also appears to have a smudgy dark tip, which favors COTE. The primary tips seem to be about the same length as the tail tip. This is not a strong distinguishing characteristic for one over the other, but slightly favors COTE, as an ARTE in breeding plumage often has a tail which extends beyond the primary tips. The primaries (upperside) are a dusky gray, rather than a pale gray, which favors COTE.

The observer points out that the bird was solitary. It's true that COTEs seem more gregarious when we see them locally (i.e. often in groups) while ARTEs, on the rare occasions when they're detected locally, are usually solitary. However, I have seen solitary COTEs.

Bottom line... I would leave the bird unidentified. If my feet were held to the fire, I'd say it's likely a Common Tern. Be aware that, although I have 6-7 records of ARTE in my personal records, I'm not fortunate enough to have opportunities to study them frequently.

ceherzog
ceherzog 5 years ago

Good...let me know what he says.

dcslaugh
dcslaugh 5 years ago

I just sent it to Stu. Thank you!!

ceherzog
ceherzog 5 years ago

Peter? Would you rather I send it to Stu? Can you send to my email rather than PN?

dcslaugh
dcslaugh 5 years ago

Claire, I did send this to Peter to ask his opinion earlier....

dcslaugh
dcslaugh 5 years ago

Well, the beak is the reason I was thinking that it could be an Arctic. I don't see any black tip in these pictures. As far as remembering a black tip, well, I wouldn't remember because I didn't know as much back in May.

ceherzog
ceherzog 5 years ago

I'm really not sure on this. The primaries look darker than the back and the bill looks somewhat longer than an Arctic. The tail is kinda hard for me to judge. The black cap does seem extensive and rather close to the gape. Could you tell if there was a black tip to the bill?
Between Arctic & Common. BTW, a friend of mine had an Arctic Tern on LBK about a month ago. Send your pics to Stu Wilson , stuwilson@comcast.net and see what he thinks. Let me know ceherzog@gmail.com

Desmond.E.S.O
Desmond.E.S.O 5 years ago

hmm. He must have been angry... haha

dcslaugh
dcslaugh 5 years ago

Interesting to note also is that a Great Blue Heron attacked it too! I've never seen one do that!

Desmond.E.S.O
Desmond.E.S.O 5 years ago

Congrats, dcslaugh!

JoshuaGSmith
JoshuaGSmith 5 years ago

Wow! dcslaugh, you should report this to eBird. I reexamined the article and agree with you two.

Desmond.E.S.O
Desmond.E.S.O 5 years ago

...(the tail)

Desmond.E.S.O
Desmond.E.S.O 5 years ago

this one is pretty dark... http://tgreybirds.com/Pages/ArcticTernp....

JoshuaGSmith
JoshuaGSmith 5 years ago

This would be a county first record.

Desmond.E.S.O
Desmond.E.S.O 5 years ago

Everything on ebird seems to be pointing toward the arctic legs, bill, tail length Vs wing length Etc.

JoshuaGSmith
JoshuaGSmith 5 years ago

Arctic terns are quite rare in Sarasota in May. I noticed that your tern's primaries were significantly darker than the back. Arctic's primaries are uniform in color with the back.

dcslaugh
dcslaugh 5 years ago

Yeah, I don't think it is a Forster's Tern either. :) But the bill seems to look more like the Arctic per the ebird description!

JoshuaGSmith
JoshuaGSmith 5 years ago

If you are wondering how to separate similar tern species, then here's a good article to read: http://ebird.org/content/wi/news/id-tip-...

dcslaugh
Spotted by
dcslaugh

Florida, USA

Spotted on May 15, 2015
Submitted on Sep 19, 2015

Spotted for Mission

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