Sooty Tern

Onychoprion fuscatus

Order

CHARADRIIFORMES

Family

Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4

SOTE

Code 6

ONYFUS

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Sooty Tern is a seabird found in tropical oceans. Typical breeding habitats are found on islands along the equator. This bird may also be known as the Wideawake Tern or simply a Wideawake. During winter months, this species migrates throughout the tropical climates, and is very marine. The Sooty Tern may occasionally be seen in Western Europe. It is not normally found on the Pacific coasts of the Americas. Nests are scrapes on the ground, and diets normally consist of fish picked off the surface of the sea. The conservation rating of the Sooty Tern is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Sooty Tern: This medium-sized tern has long wings, a deeply forked tail, black crown, nape, and upperparts and a broad triangular white forehead patch. The underparts are white; upper tail is black with white outer edges. It has a direct flight with strong, shallow wing beats. It hovers before dipping for prey. It feeds on squid and fish. Sexes are similar.


Range and Habitat

Sooty Tern: Largely pelagic, coming ashore only to breed. Has an established breeding colony on Dry Tortugas, Florida. Florida population spends most of its nonbreeding time off the west African coast. Also nests on islets off Louisiana and Texas. Regular (nonbreeding) in summer north to North Carolina.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"ka-wake", "ke weh-de-wek" , "wacky-wack", "wide-awake"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Sooty Tern is also known as the Wideawake Tern or just wideawake. This refers to the incessant calls produced by a colony of these birds.
  • On Easter Island, this species and the Grey-backed Tern are collectively known as manutara. The manutara played an important role in the tangata manu ("birdman") ritual.
  • Whomever's hopu (champion) could retrieve the first manutara egg from Motu Nui islet would become that year's tangata manu; his clan would receive prime access to resources, especially seabird eggs.
  • A group of terns are collectively known as a "ternery" or a "U" of terns.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Sooty Tern

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

John Schwarz

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX
Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.
UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
CrownX
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
NapeX
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
PelagicX
The pelagic is a type of bird whose habitat is on the open ocean rather than in a coastal region or on inland bodies of water (lakes, rivers). An example of a pelagic bird is the blacklegged kittiwake.
Lower mandibleX
The lower part of the bill.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X