Elegant Tern

Thalasseus elegans

Order

CHARADRIIFORMES

Family

Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4

ELTE

Code 6

THAELE

ITIS

Egg Color:

White to pink buff with black or dark brown marks



Number of Eggs:

2



Incubation Days:

20 - 30



Egg Incubator:

Both sexes



Nest Location:

On ground.



Nest Material:

No nest materials.



Migration:

Migratory



SPONSORED ADVERTISEMENTS

General

Elegant Tern: Medium-sized tern with pale gray upperparts and white underparts that may be tinged pink. Black cap has shaggy crest; orange or red-orange bill is long and slightly decurved. Outermost primaries have faint black smudges. Tail is deeply forked and legs are black. Sexes are similar. Winter adult has receded black cap with white forehead. Juvenile is similar to winter adult but with back faintly spotted brown and yellow bill and legs.

Range and Habitat

Elegant Tern: Breeds only in five known colonies: three in southern California, and two in northwestern Mexico. Many disperse northward after breeding season. Spends summers near the Baja Peninsula. Spends winters along the Pacific coast from central Mexico to Chile. Preferred habitats include shallow estuaries and bays.

Breeding and Nesting

Elegant Tern: Two white to pink buff eggs marked with black or dark brown are laid in a shallow ground scrape near water. Incubation ranges from 20 to 30 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Elegant Tern: Feeds on fish; forages by hovering over shallow water and then plunge diving.

Vocalization

Elegant Tern: Call is a grating "karreck, karreck, karreck."

Similar Species

Elegant Tern: Royal Tern is larger with thicker, shorter, straight bill and shorter crest.

.
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.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X