Caspian Tern

Hydroprogne caspia

Order

CHARADRIIFORMES

Family

Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4

CATE

Code 6

HYDCAS

ITIS

  • wgba_banner
  • ibird_banner
  • journal_banner
1 2 3

ILLUSTRATION

ask community
Copyright © 2004 - 2014 Mitch Waite Group

PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Caspian Tern has a range of about 10 million square kilometers. The population of the Caspian Tern is estimated to be about 300,000 individual birds. This bird is native to dozens of countries throughout the world, primarily in Asia. It is also a visitor to areas of Europe and the Caribbean. The Caspian Tern is considered to be regionally extinct in Denmark. Currently, the Caspian Tern has a rating of Least Concern, downgraded from a prior Lower Risk rating.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Caspian Tern: This large stocky tern has pale gray upperparts and white underparts. The cap is black and may appear weakly crested. The large bill is coral-red, the undersides of the primaries are gray, a short white tail is slightly forked, and the legs are black. The flight is strong, swift and graceful. It hovers above water before diving and mainly feeds on fish. The sexes are similar.


Range and Habitat

Caspian Tern: Breeds in scattered colonies from central Canada, Great Lakes, and Newfoundland south to the Gulf coast and Baja California. Spends winters north to California and North Carolina. Also breeds in Eurasia, Africa, and Australia. Preferred habitats include sandy or pebbly shores of lakes and large rivers and along coasts.

whatbird search for your browser

SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"kaark" and "ka-arr"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Caspian Tern aggressively defends its breeding colony. It will pursue, attack, and chase potential predatory birds, and can cause bloody wounds on the heads of people who invade the colony. The entire colony will take flight, however, when a Bald Eagle flies overhead, exposing the chicks to predation from gulls.
  • The largest breeding colony in North America is off the coast of Oregon. Increasing numbers of terns at this site have caused problems with young salmon releases, some of them endangered species. Efforts are being made to move the colony to other areas, away from the fish stocking programs.
  • Young Caspian Terns appear to have a difficult time learning to catch fish efficiently. They stay with their parents for long periods of time, and are fed by them even on the wintering grounds. Many young terns do not return to the nesting grounds for several years, remaining instead on the wintering areas.
  • A group of terns are collectively known as a "ternery" or a "U" of terns.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Caspian Tern

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

.
UnderpartsX
Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.
UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
CapX
The area on top of the head of the bird.
PrimariesX
The primaries are the flight feathers specialized for flight. They are attached to the "hand" equivalent part of the wing.
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