Royal tern

Royal tern are named appropriately wearing a black crown on their heads.

We can see this bird has been ringed, ©Rob Carr
Collection of Royal terns, ©Rob Carr

Where is the Royal tern found?

As mentioned earlier, he is seen at the newly formed water park close to Footsteps which in the past was a sand quarry. Now it has filled with water its become quite a birding hotspot!

In Gambia for example it is generally fairly common where you find water.

What does it look like?

This is a large tern, second only to the Caspian tern but is unlikely to be confused with the carrot-billed giant, which has extensive dark under-wing patches.

The royal tern has an orange-red bill, pale grey upperparts and white underparts. Its legs are black. In winter, the black cap becomes patchy. Juvenile royal terns are similar to non-breeding adults. Differences include juveniles having black splotched wings and a yellower bill. An adult royal tern has an average wingspan of 130 cm, for both sexes, but their wingspan can range from 125–135 cm. The Royal tern’s length ranges from 45–50 cm and its weight is anywhere from 350–450 g.

In parts of its range, the royal tern could be confused with the elegant tern, but the elegant tern has a longer, more curved, bill and shows more white on the forehead in winter. Source Wikipedia.

What does it feed on?

The Royal tern feeds on small fish. It dives from a height of close to 10 m preferring mangroves and estuaries however it will also hunt at sea, usually not far from the shoreline.

Want to know an interesting Factoid?

Royal terns live to a ripe old age with the oldest recorded being over 30 years.

How does it sound?

Both male and female of a pair give a loud, high-pitched ka-rreet! call during courtship and when returning to the colony. Courting birds also give a lower, sharp aack call. A shorter version of this also serves as an alarm or agitation call. Another alarm call is a high-pitched, sharp keet-keet! Source All about birds

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