Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global citizen science platform
to discover, share and identify wildlife

Join Project Noah!

Royal Tern

Thalasseus maximus


There are quite a few birds in the series. The focus bird is the large tern with the tangerine colored bill, black crest, and white plumage. They have a forked tail and black legs. I believe the two on the right are breeding adults due to their black caps. I am not sure if the tern located to the left is a nonbreeding adult or an immature bird.


Range: The two subspecies of this tern can be found in Europe, Africa, North and South America, and the Caribbean Islands. Habitat: These terns inhabit saltwater coastlines, (saltwater bays and rivers when caring for their young). Nesting: These birds nest on sandy beaches and barrier islands. Young are able to leave the nest in one day. Diet: Royal Terns eat fish, shrimp, small crabs, and occasionally squid.


These birds were found on San Jose Island located on the Texas coastline. I have seen them many times but assumed they were some kind of gull. I love the black crest on these birds. FUN FACTS: 1. In the 1950's Royal Tern numbers dropped dramatically in Southern California due to a sharp decrease in sardine populations in this area. As of 2019 a recorded 3 dozen pairs are currently located in Southern California. 2. Royal tern chicks leave the nest within 1 day and form large groups called a creche (nursery). Groups can number into the thousands. Parent terns feed only their own chicks within the creche. 3. The oldest Royal Tern on record was approximately 30 years old and was found in Belize. It was banded in North Carolina in 1983. Ref:

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID

No Comments

Texas, USA

Spotted on Jun 11, 2019
Submitted on Jun 24, 2019

Related Spottings

Crested Tern Royal Tern Royal Tern Crested Tern

Nearby Spottings

Least Tern Sandwich Tern Spotting Snowy Egret