White Tern

• large eye for night feeding

This is an elegant sea tern of tropical oceans, with a gentle, delicate appearance. In behavior it is unusually tame and will allow an observer to approach. It has a forked tail and a slender bill that appears to be tilted slightly upward. This is the only tern species that has all-white plumage. It spends much of the time flying over the sea, either in coastal waters or in mid-ocean. Its flight is light and buoyant, combining agility with graceful movement. The wings are broader and more rounded in flight than are those of other terns. When feeding at sea, it follows a rising, then falling, flight path, dipping to snatch fish and small squids from the surface. It also catches fish as they leap. The large eyes appear to be an adaptation for night feeding, its prey normally rising to surface waters after dark.

• NKST No nest is made, but the female lays her egg and balances it throughout incubation on a small space on a tree branch, in the fork of a twig, on a palm frond, or on a rock ledge.

• DISTRIBUTION Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

DlSTRIBt TION

long, slender • wings strongly foi led tail

Plumage Sexcs aMkc

Migration ¡>3rtia| migrant

Family RHYNCHOPIDAE

Species RJtynchops nigfr

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