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GULLS and Allies

Gulls, terns, skimmers, skuas, puffins, and their allies belong to the order Charadriiformes. Charadriiformes is a diverse order and contains many other families. Most live near water and eat invertebrates or other small animals; however, some are pelagic (seabirds), some occupy deserts and a few are found in thick forest.

Terns

Order Charadriiformes  Family Sternidae

Terns are most closely related to the gulls, They have a worldwide distribution. Many terns breeding in temperate zones are long-distance migrants. They are, in general, medium to large birds (23-53 cm), typically with gray or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. They have longish bills and webbed feet. They are lighter bodied and more streamlined than gulls, and look elegant in flight with long tails and long narrow wings. They make harsh, single-note calls. Most terns hunt fish by diving, often hovering first. Terns only glide infrequently. Apart from bathing, they only rarely swim, despite having webbed feet. Most terns nest in large, densely packed colonies. Depending on the species and habitat, the nests may consist of unlined scrapes in the ground, or of flimsy collections of sticks on trees or floating vegetation.

Genus Anous

Noddy, Black Anous minutus     Found: Found: warm coastal locations The Americas, Asia, Africa, Australasia.
The Black Noddy has dark brown body; white forehand; gray nape; white partial eye-ring below eye.
Similar to: Brown Noddy. Black Noddy has a longer and thinner bill than Brown Noddy. Black Noddy has a darker body. Brown Noddy has partial eye-ring above and below the eyes; Black Noddy has partial eye-ring below the eyes.
Image by:  1, 2) Kevin Rolle  3, 4, 5, 6) Dick Daniels - Hawaii  
1) Chick



Noddy, Brown also Common Noddy Anous stolidus   Found: warm coastal locations The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia.
The Brown Noddy has brown body; white forehand; gray nape; white partial eye-ring above and below eye.
Similar to: Black Noddy. Black Noddy has a longer and thinner bill than Brown Noddy. Black Noddy has a darker body. Brown Noddy has partial eye-ring above and below the eyes; Black Noddy has partial eye-ring below the eyes.
Similar to: Lesser Noddy. Lesser Noddy has a longer and thinner bill than Brown Noddy.
Image by: 1) AngrySunBird  2) Larry Meade - Florida  3, 4, 5, 6) Dick Daniels - Michaelmas Cay, Great Barrier Reef, Australia



Noddy, Lesser  Anous tenuirostris  Found: Africa
The Brown Noddy has brown body; white forehand; gray nape; white partial eye-ring above and below eye.
The largest breeding colonies are on the Seychelles islands which are northeast of Madagascar.
Similar to: Brown Noddy. Lesser Noddy has a longer and thinner bill than Brown Noddy.
Image by: 1, 2) Adrien2008 - Cousin Island  3) B. Navez - Rodrigues Island



Genus Chlidonias
These species are referred to as marsh terns as they are usually found at fresh water marshes instead of coastal locations.

Tern, Black Chlidonias niger Found: The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia
The breeding Black Tern has a dark gray back; black head, neck, breast, black down curved bill; gray wings; dark legs. Nonbreeding adult  has some residual black on head; white neck, throat, underparts.
Similar to: White-winged Tern. White-winged Tern has much lighter wings than Black Tern.
Image by: 1) Maggie Smith  2, 4, 6) Dick Daniels - Nantucket, Massachusetts  3) Jerry Oldenettel - New Mexico  5)  Tim Lenz - New York   7) Brian Desrosiers - Ontario   8, 9) Eric Begin    10)  Alan D Wilson - Oregon  11) Omar Runolfsson - Iceland
1) Juvenile  2, 3, 4) Nonbreeding  5, 6) Breeding eclipse   7) Breeding pair  8) Breeding female  9, 10, 11) Breeding male


Tern, Black-fronted  Chlidonias albostriatus  Found: New Zealand
The Black-fronted Tern has gray upperparts, white underparts; orange legs. Breeding bird has blackhood; nonbreeding has hood remnants.
Similar to: Whiskered Tern. Black-fronted Tern has white breast; Whiskered Tern has gray breast.
Image by: 1) Francois Roche - New Zealand  2) Aviceda - New Zealand


Tern, Whiskered Chlidonias hybridus Found: Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia
The breeding adult Whiskered Tern has dark gray upperparts; black cap extending towards nape, eyes; white cheeks; red legs and bill; short forked tail. Nonbreeding adult has residual black cap; black bill; white underparts.
Similar to: Black-bellied Tern. Black-bellied Tern belly has deeper forked tail then Whisered Tern.
Similar to: Black-fronted Tern. Black-fronted Tern has orange bill; Whiskered Tern has red bill.
Image by: 1, 4) Jan Svetlik   2) Ron Knight - France   3) Marek Szczepanek   
1) Nonbreeding  2, 3) Breeding


Tern, White-winged also White-winged Black Tern  Chlidonias leucopterus   Found: North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia
The breeding White-winged Tern has a dark gray back; black head, neck, breast; dark red down curved bill; light gray wings; red legs. Nonbreeding adult  has some residual black on head; light gray back and wings; white throat, underparts.
Similar to: Black Tern.  White-winged Tern has much lighter wings than Black Tern.
Image by:  1) Johann du Preez  2) Paulo Philippidis near Bahir Dar, Ethiopia  3, 4) Frank Vassen - Poland     5) Ziegentom - Poland   6) Andy L
1. 2) Nonbreeding   3, 4, 5, 6) Breeding




Genus Gelochelidon - 1 species

Tern, Gull-billed  Gelochelidon nilotica Found:  The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia
The Gull-billed Tern has a large gull-sized bill and is gull shaped. The breeding adult has gray upperparts; white neck, underparts, tail; black cap, bill, legs. Nonbreeding tern retains some bplack on its head.
Similar to: Sandwich Tern. Sandwich Tern has yellow-tipped bill.
Image by:  1) J M Garg - Chhilka, Orissa, India  2, 5) Sergey Yeliseev - Russia     3) Cláudio Timm - Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil   4) Vincent P Lucas   6) Glen Fergus - Brisbane, Australia   7) Eric Kershner, USFWS - California 
1, 2, 3) Nonbreeding 4, 5) Transition 6, 7) Breeding  




Genus Gygis - 1 species

Tern, White  also Fairy Tern  also Angel Tern  Gygis alba  Found:  Mexico, South America, Africa, Asia, Australasia
The White Tern is an all white tern with long, black bill. It is found around tropical oceans. It lays its egg on a depression of a branch or in a small fork. The White Tern is related to the noddies of genus Anous. It should not be referred to as the Fairy Tern as that is for a dissimilar tern.
Image by: 1) Gerwin Strum - Seychelles Islands   2, 3, 4) Adrien2008 - Cousin Island, Seychelles Islands  5) Kris Krug - Midway Island




Genus Hydroprogne - 1 species

Tern, Caspian Hydroprogne caspia also Sterna caspia  Found: The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia 
The breeding Caspian Tern has pale gray back and upper wings; pale underwings with dark primary feathers; white head with black cap; white neck, underparts, tail; black legs; thick dark red bill with a small black tip. Nonbreeding adult retains black cap, but it has some white showing. It is the largest tern.
Similar to: Elegant Tern. Elegant Tern has more notched tail. Caspian Tern does not have a creast.
Similar to: Royal Tern. Caspian Tern has dark red bill, Royal tern has reddish-orange bill. Royal Tern is thinner in overall appearance. Nonbreeding Caspian Tern retains its crown; nonbreeding Royal Tern does not.
Image by: 1) Len Blumin - California  2) Sergey Yelsieev - Russia  3, 9) Dick Daniels - North Carolina  4, 5, 6, 7, 8) Dick - Half Moon Bay, California   
1) Juvenile  2, 3) Nonbreeding  4 - 8) Breeding  9) Royal Tern on left, Capian onrRight



Genus Larosterna - 1 species

Tern, Inca   Larosterna inca     Found: South America
The Inca Tern is mostly dark gray; orange red bill and feet; white moustache.
Image by: 1, 2, 5) Dick DanielsJacksonville Zoo  3) Dick - National Aviary 
    4) Ed Gaillard   5) Brian Gratwicke  6) Charlie Westerinen - Peru   7)  Sandy Cole - National Aviary




Genus Onychoprion

Tern, Aleutian  Onychoprion aleuticus  Found: North America (Alaska), Asia
The Aleutian Tern has a black cap, nape, eye-line; white forehead; gray upperparts; pale underwing; white rump, tail; black legs and bill. Breeds in Alaska and eastern Siberia.
Similar to: Bridled Tern, Gray-backed Tern; Aleution Tern has lighter gray upper parts.
Similar to: Sooty Tern. The Sooty Tern has black upperparts; Aleutian Tern has gray upperparts.
Image by: 1) USFWS - Kodiak, AK  2) USgov  3) Bob O'brien  4) Mark Peck - Alaska


Tern, Bridled   Onychoprion anaethetus   Found: The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia
The Bridled Tern has a black cap, nape, eye-line; white forehead; dark gray upperparts; white underparts; deeply forked tail; black legs and bill. It is found at the tropical oceans.
Similar to: Aleutian Tern. Ranges do not overlap.
Similar to: Gray-backed Tern. Grey-backed Tern is paler than Bridled Tern and has a narrower forehead.
Similar to: Sooty Tern. The Bridled Tern has black upperparts; Sooty has gray upperparts.
Image by: 1) Pete Hill - Australia  2, 6) Aviceda - Australia  3) Helen - Australia    4) Tony Brown   5)  Seabamirum - off east coast of USA
5) Nonbreeding adult on flotsam



Tern, Grey-backed  also  Spectacaled Tern   Onychoprion lunatus  Found: Hawaii, Australia
The Gray-backed Tern has a black cap, nape, eye-line; white forehead; dark gray upperparts; white underparts; deeply forked tail; black legs and bill. Least common member of genus.
Similar to: Aleutian Tern. Ranges do not overlap.
Similar to: Bridled Tern. Grey-backed Tern is paler than Bridled Tern and has a narrower forehead.
Similar to: Sooty Tern. Sooty Tern has black upperparts; Grey-backed Tern has gray upperparts.
Image by: 1) Duncan Wright of USFWS  2) Kevin Rolle  3) Forest and Kim Starr


Tern, Sooty Onychoprion fuscata   Found: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia
The Sooty Tern has black upperparts, cap, nape, eye-line; white forehead; white underparts; deeply forked tail; black legs and bill.
Similar to: Bridled Tern. Bridled Tern has black upperparts; Sooty has gray.
Image by:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5) Dick Daniels - Michaelmas Cay, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
1) Adult, juvenile  2, 3, 4) Juvenile 5) Adult




Genus Phaetusa - 1 species

Tern, Large-billed  Phaetusa simplex  Found: South America
The Large-billed Tern has large yellow bill; gray upperparts; black cap while breeding, remnants of black otherwise.
Similar to: Yellow-billed Tern. Large-billed Tern is larger than Yellow-billed Tern, and its bill is also larger.
Image by: 1, 3) Cláudio Timm - the Amazon, Brazil  2, 4, 5) Barloventomagico - Venezuela
1) Juvenile   2) Juvenile, Adult  5) Large-billed Tern and Black Skimmer




Genus Procelsterna

Noddy, Blue  also Blue-grey Noddy  Procelsterna cerulea  Found: Pacific islands including Hawaii. Vagrant: Australia, Japan
Similar to: Grey Noddy. Grey Noddy tends to be farther south than Blue Noddy.
Image by: Aviceda - New Zealand  2) Duncan Wright - Hawaii


Noddy, Grey  also  Grey Ternlet  Procelsterna albivitta  Found: Australasia
The Grey Noddy has gray upperparts; white head, underparts; wings have dark tips; black eyes; black thin pointed bill; black legs.
Similar to: Blue Noddy. Grey Noddy tends to be farther south than Blue Noddy.
Image by: 1) Tony Morris - New Zealand  2) Aviceda - New Zealand



Genus Sterna
Sterna is a genus of large light gray and white terns. Most have a black cap that extends below the eyes. Some also have a black nape.

Tern, Antarctic  Sterna vittata    Found: southern oceans including South America, Africa
The Antarctic Tern has gray upperparts; white underparts; black cap extending to forehead when breeding, otherwise it has a grizzled crown and white forehead; dark red or blackish bill; tips of wings are grayish black. Restricted to Southern Hemisphere.
Similar to: Arctic Tern. Arctic tern has longer bill; Antarctic Tern has darker bill. Antarctic Tern has gray wing tips in flight; Arctic Tern has blackish tips.
Image by:  1, 2) Claudio Timm  3) Charlie Westerinen on the Antarctic ice 4) Liam Quinn


Tern, Arctic Sterna paradisaea   Found: The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia
The Arctic Tern has gray upperparts; white underparts; black cap extending to forehead; long red bill. Migrates between arctic and antarctic.
Similar to: Antarctic Tern. Arctic tern has longer bill; Antarctic Tern has darker bill. Antarctic Tern has gray wing tips in flight; Arctic Tern has blackish tips.
Similar to: Common Tern. Juvenile and nonbreeding Arctic Tern have white forehead. black legs, black bill. Breeding adults have black cap, red legs, red bill. Legs are shorter than Common Tern.
Similar to: South American Tern. Arctic Tern has darker bill.
Image by: 1) Benjamin Dobson  2, 3) Dick Daniels - Gulf Stream off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina  4) Hillary Chambers  5) Alistair Rae    6) Blake Matheson - North Sea   7) John Haddington  8) AndreasTrepte 
1, 2, 3) Juvenile


Tern, Black-bellied  Sterna acuticauda   Found: south Asia
The Black-bellied Tern has gray upperparts; black belly in summer, white otherwise; black cap extending to forehead; deeply forked tail; orange bill. Found near large rivers in Indian subcontinent.
Similar to: Whiskered Tern. Black-fronted Tern has orange bill; Whiskered Tern has red bill.
Image by: 1) Vinayak Kulkarni  2) Charlie Westerinen - northern Cambodia   3( Michael and Helen Cox
1) Nonbreeding  2, 3) Breeding


Tern, Black-naped  Sterna sumatrana  Found: tropical and subtropical ocean areas of Asia, Africa, Australia
The Black-naped  has gray upperparts; white underparts, crown, forehead; black nape; black bill with yellow tip; black legs. long forked tails. Mostly found in tropical and subtropical Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Image by: 1) Aviceda - Australia  2) Andy Li


Tern, Common   Found: The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia
The breeding Common Tern has gray upperparts; white underparts; black cap; black ended orange-red bill; orange-red legs; long forked tail. Nonbreeding has black on rear crown and nape; black bill and feet. Wingtips usually longer than than tail.
Similar to: Arctic Tern. Juvenile and nonbreeding Common Tern have dark carpal bar, white forehead. black legs, black bill (young juvenile also has orange on bill). Breeding adults have black cap, orange-red legs, orange-red bill with dark tip. Legs are longer than Arctic Tern, more black on wings.
Similar to Forster's Tern. Nonbreeding Forster's Tern has an eye mask versus the partial hood of the nonbreeding Common Tern. Breeding Forster's Tern has longer legs and more black on the bill than breeding Common Tern. Breeding Forster's Tern has orange on bill; breeding Common Tern has orange-red on bill.
Similar to: South American Tern. Common Tern has red and black bill; South American Tern just red bill.
Image by: 1) Len Blumin - Connecticut  2, Dick Daniels - Jamaica  3) Muchaxo - Portugal  4, 5) Dick - Nantucket, Massachusetts  6) Dick - North Carolina    7) Mr T in DC  - New York  8) Tiia Monto - Finland   9) Joan Roca  10) Cristiano Crolle - Torrile. Italy  11) Cristiano Crolle - Texel, Holland
1) Young juvenile  2) Juvenile  3 - 5) Nonbreeding  6 - 9) Breeding   


Tern, Forster's Sterna forsteri   Found: The Americas, Europe (rare)
The breeding Forster's Tern has gray upperparts; white underparts; black cap; black ended orange bill; orange legs. Nonbreeding has black ear patch. Tail often longer than wings.
Similar to Common Tern. Nonbreeding Forster's Tern has an eye mask versus the partial hood of the nonbreeding Common Tern. Breeding Forster's Tern has longer legs and more black on the bill than breeding Common Tern. Breeding Forster's Tern has orange on bill; breeding Common Tern has orange-red on bill.
Image by: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8) Dick - North Carolina 2) Dick Daniels - Georgia    6) Dick - Panama  9, 10, 11, 12) Dick - Assateague Island in Virginia 
1) Late summer juvenile    8 - 12) Black hood in breeding season


Tern, Kerguelan  Sterna virgata  Found: vicinity of Kerguelen Islands (southern Indian Ocean)
Kerguelen Terns are among the least-ranging of all typical terns. They generally do not reach far into the seas near their breeding grounds.
Image by: 1) Neil Cheshire  2) Francois Guerraz
1) Nonbreeding 2) Breeding


Tern, River also Indian River Tern  Sterna aurantia  Found: Asia
The breeding River Tern has dark gray upperparts; white underparts; black cap, nape; yellow bill; red legs. Nonbreeding has gray and white cap; dark eye mask; white eye-ring. It prefers a river habitat.
Image by:  1) Kousik Nandy  2, 3) J M Garg - Pocharam lake, Andhra Pradesh, India


Tern, Roseate  Sterna dougallii  found: The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia
The Roseate Tern has long thin bill, usually red at base and black at end; the warmer the climate the more extensive the red. The tail is deeply forked, projects further than wingtips, and the wings are mostly white. The breast is pinkish during breeding season, thus the name roseate.
Image by: 1, 2) Kirk Rogers, USFWS - Maine  3) Hilary Chambers - England    4) Florida Fish and Wildlife   5)  Aviceda - Australia  6) Fen Oswin 
2) Roseate Tern chasing Common Tern  3) Tail projects beyond wingtips.



Tern, Snowy-crowned   Sterna trudeaui   Found: South America
The Snowy-crowned Tern has light gray upperparts and underparts; white head; black line to rear of eye; yellow bill with black.
Image by: 1, 2, 3) Cláudio Timm - Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil


Tern, South American  Sterna hirundinacea  Found: South America
The breeding South American Tern has light gray upperparts; white underparts; black cap; red bill, legs.
Similar to: Arctic Tern. Arctic Tern has darker bill.
Similar to: Common Tern. Common Tern has red and black bill; South American Tern just red bill.

Image by: 1, 2) Claudio Timm - Brazil  3) Charlie Westerinen - Ushuaia, Argentina  4) Chris Pearson - the Falklands 
1) Nonbreeding  2, 3, 4) Breeding

                              
Tern, White-cheeked  Sterna repressa  Found: Afica, Asia
Image by: 1) Ibrahem ALNassar  2) Finsch 3) Shah Jahan - Abu Dhabi 
1) Nonbreeding 2, 3) Breeding


Tern, White-fronted Sterna striata   Found: New Zealand
The breeding White-fronted Tern has gray back, wings; white underparts, tail; black cap exteneding to nape; dark red  bill and legs.  The nonbreeding bird cap receeds yield more white forehead; black bill and legs.
Image by: 1) David Burgess - Omana, North Island, New Zealand  2) Aviceda - Miranda, New Zealand  3, 4, 5) Dick Daniels




Genus Sternula
Sternula is a genus of small light gray and white terns. In breeding plumage they generally have a black cap with black line extending through the eye to base of the bill.

Tern, Damara  Sternula balaenarum  Found: Africa
Image by:   1) Ron Knight - Namibia  2) Brun


Tern, Fairy  Sternula nereis  Australasia, southwestern Pacific
Image by: 1) Nick Talbot - Victoria  2) JJ Harrison - Tasmania


Tern, Least Sternula antillarum   Found: The Americas
The breeding Least Tern has gray upperparts; white underparts; gray wings with black markings on outermost primaries; black cap with black line through the eye to base of bill; white forehead; orange-yellowish legs; yellow bill with small black tip. Nonbreeding tern has less defined black cap and larger white forehead; black bill, feet.
Similar to: Yellow-billed Tern. Yellow-billed Tern has brighter yellow bill.
Image by: 1) Maggie Smith  2, 4) Dick Daniels - Nantucket, Massachusetts  3) Bob Devlin - New Jersey     5) Ken Schneider - Florida  6, 7) Dick - North Carolina   8) Dan Pancamo - Texas  9) Vince Smith - Texas
1 - 4) Juvenile  5) Nonbreeding  6 - 9) Breeding plumage




1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) Mating ritual: male courts female by bringing a shrimp to demonstrate he is a good provider.
She allows them to mate, he passes the shrimp to her while she gets ready to fly off.



Tern, Little Sternula albifrons   Found: Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia
The breeding Little Tern has gray upperparts; white underparts; gray wings; black cap with black line through the eye to base of bill; white forehead; orange-yellowish legs; yellow bill with small black tip. Nonbreeding tern has less defined black cap and larger white forehead; black bill, feet.
Similar to: Least Tern. Least Tern has gray rump, tail; Little Tern has white rump, tail.
Image by: 1) JJ Harrison   2) Dick Daniels - Cairns, Australia   3) Oystercatcher   4) Patrick K59  5) Dick - Madagascar
1) Juvenile  2) Nonbreeding  3, 4) Breeding



Tern, Peruvian  Sternula lorata  Found: Chile, Ecuador, Peru
The Peruvian Tern has gray upperparts, wings, tail; black crown with broad white forehead; black nape; white face, chin, breast; gray belly, flanks; yellow bill with black tip; brown eyes; yellowish legs.
Image by: 1) Amy McAndrews - Peru  2) Walter Romero


Tern, Saunders  Sternula saundersi  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Khalifa   2) Raveen and Varuni


Tern, Yellow-billed  Sternula superciliaris  Found: South America
The breeding Yellow-billed Tern has gray upperparts; white underparts; gray wings with black markings on outermost primaries; black cap with black line through the eye to base of bill; white forehead; yellow legs; bright yellow bill. Nonbreeding tern has less defined black cap and larger white forehead; black bill, feet.
Similar to: Least Tern. Yellow-billed Tern has brighter yellow bill.
Similar to: Large-billed Tern. Large-billed Tern is larger than Yellow-billed Tern, and its bill is also larger.
Image by: Cláudio Timm - Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil  2, 3) Barloventomagico - Venezuela
1) Nonbreeding  2) Breeding



Genus Thalasseus
The Crested Terns

Tern, Chinese Crested  Thalasseus bernsteini  Found: near Taiwan
The Chinese Crested Tern has gray upperparts; white underparts; black crest which recedes in the winter; yellow bill with distictive black tip; black legs. There are very few of these birds left due to poaching of eggs.
Image by: Changhua Coast Conservation Action  2) characters


Tern, Elegant   Thalasseus elegans   Found: The Americas, Europe, Africa
The breeding Elegant Tern has pale gray upperparts; white underparts; black crest; long slender orange bill; black legs. In winter, the forehead becomes white
Similar to: Caspian Tern. Elegant Tern has more notched tail. Caspian Tern does not have a creast.
Similar to: Royal Tern. Elegant Tern longer and drooping bill, also has a longer crest. Nonbreeding Elegant Tern has a smaller white spot on the forehead.
Image by: 1) Maggie Smith   2) Alan Vernon   3) Len Blumin - California  4) Bill Bouton - California   5) Charlie Westerinen - Lima, Peru  6) Mike Baird - California  7) George Lamson - California    8) Regular Daddy - California
1) Juvenile 2) First year 3 - 6) Nonbreeding 7, 8) Breeding


Tern, Greater Crested also Crested Tern  also Swift Tern  Thalasseus bergii  Found: Asia, Africa, Australia
The Greater Crested Tern has pale gray upperparts; white underparts; black crest which recedes in the winter; yellow bill; black legs.
Similar to: Lesser Crested Tern. Greater Crested tern is larger and has a yellow bill; Lesser-crested has orange bill.
Image by: 1, 2) Dick Daniels south of Cape Town, South Africa   3) Quarti - Garey Beach, Royal National Park, Sydney  4) Glen Fergus - Fingal Beach, Australia  5) Noodle Snacks 
4, 5) Breeding



Tern, Lesser Crested Thalasseus bengalensis   Found: Africa, Australia
The Lesse Crested Tern has gray upperparts; white underparts; black crest which recedes in the winter; orange bill; black legs.
Similar to: Greater Crested Tern. Greater Crested tern is larger and has a yellow bill; Lesser-crested has orange bill.
Image by: 1, 2, 3, 4) Dick Daniels on Michaelmas Cay - the Great Barrier Reef, Australia   5) Charlie Westerinen - eastern Australia
4) All hail the king!


Tern, Royal Thalasseus maximus   Found: The Americas, Europe, Africa
The Royal Tern has has gray upperparts; white underparts; black crest which recedes in the winter; red-orange bill; black legs.
Similar to: Caspian Tern. Caspian Tern has dark red bill, Royal tern has reddish-orange bill. Royal Tern is thinner in overall appearance. Nonbreeding Caspian Tern retains its crown; nonbreeding Royal Tern does not.
Similar to: Elegant Tern. Elegant Tern longer and drooping bill, also has a longer crest. Nonbreeding Elegant Tern has a smaller white spot on the forehead.
Image by:  1) Dick Daniels - Florida  2) Dick - Jamaica   3) Dick - Panama   4, 5, 6,  7, 8,  9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14) Dick - North Carolina 


Tern, Sandwich also Cabot's Tern  Thalasseus sandvicensis acuflavidus also Thalasseus acuflavidus    Found: The Americas
The Sandwich Tern (Cabot's) has gray upperparts; white underparts; black crest which recedes in the winter; black bill with distictive yellow tip; black legs.
Similar to: Gull-billed Tern. Sandwich Tern has yellow-tipped bill.
Image by: 1) Dick - Venice. Florida  2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8) Dick Daniels - North Carolina    4) Charlie Westerinen - Lima, Peru 
1, 2, 3, 4) Nonbreeding  5, 6, 7, 8) Breeding  8) Sandwich Tern and Royal Tern


Tern, Sandwich  Thalasseus sandvicensis sandvicensis    Found: Europe, Asia, Africa
The Sandwich Tern (Eurasian) has gray upperparts; white underparts; black crest which recedes in the winter; black bill with distictive yellow tip; black legs.
Similar to: Gull-billed Tern. Sandwich Tern has yellow-tipped bill.
Image by: 1) MPF - Northumberland, UK  2) Jan Svetlik





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