Least Tern

It is a small tern, 22–24 cm long, with a wingspan of 50 cm, and weighing 39–52 g. The upper parts are a fairly uniform pale gray, and the underparts white. The head is white, with a black cap and line through the eye to the base of the bill, and a small white forehead patch above the bill; in winter, the white forehead is more extensive, with a smaller and less sharply defined black cap. The bill is yellow with a small black tip in summer, all blackish in winter. The legs are yellowish. The wings are mostly pale gray, but with conspicuous black markings on their outermost primaries. In behavior, it flies over water with fast, jerky wingbeats and a distinctive hunchback appearance, with the bill pointing slightly downward.

Picture of the Least Tern has been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution.
Original source: Cape MayUploaded by Snowmanradio
Author: Bear Golden Retriever from auburn,ny, usaCamera location

The Least Tern is classified as Least Concern. Does not qualify for a more at risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.

The Least Tern (Sternula antillarum, formerly Sterna antillarum) is a species of tern that breeds in North America and locally in northern South America. It is closely related to, and was formerly often considered conspecific with, the Little Tern of the Old World. Other close relatives include the Yellow-billed Tern and Peruvian Tern, both from South America. It is a small tern, 22–24 cm long, with a wingspan of 50 cm, and weighing 39–52 g. More

The California Least Tern, Sternula antillarum brownii, is a subspecies of Least Tern that breeds primarily in bays of the Pacific Ocean within a very limited range of Southern California, in San Francisco Bay and in and extreme northern Mexico. This migratory bird is a U.S. federally listed endangered subspecies. The total population of the subspecies amounted to 582 breeding pairs in the year 1974, when census work on this bird began. More

The smallest of American Terns, the Least Tern is found nesting on sandy beaches along the southern coasts of the United States and up the major river systems far into the interior of the continent. More

Description: The interior least tern is the smallest member of the tern family with a wingspan of 20 inches (50 cm). They have a grayish back and wings, and snowy white undersides. Least terns can be distinguished from all other terns by their combination of a black crown, white forehead, and a variable black-tipped yellow bill. Life History: Interior least terns arrive at breeding sites from late April to early June where they typically spend four to five months. More

Sandpiper | Least Tern | Lesser Yellowlegs | Limpkin | Little Blue Heron | Loggerhead Shrike | Long-billed Curlew | Magnificent Frigatebird | Magnolia Warbler | Mallard | Marbled Godwit | Merlin | Mottled Duck | Mourning Dove | Northern Cardinal | Northern Mockingbird | Osprey | Ovenbird | Painted Bunting | Palm Warbler | Peregrine Falcon | Pied-billed Grebe | Pileated Woodpecker | Piping Plover | Purple Gallinule | Red-bellied Woodpecker | Red-breasted Merganser | Reddish Egret | Red Knot | Red-shouldered Hawk | More

The least tern (Sterna antillarum), the smallest member of the tern family, is represented by three distinct subspecies. The coastal least tern (Sterna a. antillarum) breeds along the U.S. coast from the southern tip of Texas north to southern Maine; the California least tern (Sterna a. brownii) breeds from southern Baja California and Mexico, north to San Francisco Bay; the interior least tern (Sterna a. More

DESCRIPTION: The least tern is about nine inches long with a wing span of 20 inches. Bent (1921) referred to the least tern as the "sea swallow" for its rapid, darting flight. Breeding plumage for this tern consists of a black cap, white forehead, throat and underside with a pale gray back and wings, and black-tipped yellow-orange bill. In flight, the least tern is distinguished by the long, black outermost wing feathers and the short, deeply forked tail. More

The least tern is the smallest American tern, weighing about 1 ounce (28 gm) and measuring about 9 inches (23 cm) in length. It is identified in spring and summer by a white forehead contrasting with a black crown and nape. Its body is slate grey above and white below, with the pointed wings and forked tail characteristic of most terns. The bill and feet are yellow. Wingbeats are uniquely rapid and the black leading edge of the outer wing is conspicuous in flight. More

Least terns were collected by the thousands from the Atlantic coast for this decorative purpose, only to frighteningly diminish their numbers. Although the hunting of least terns has been outlawed, today they are listed as endangered or threatened throughout their range—the new threat, habitat loss. Colonies of up to 500 seasonally monogamous pairs nest in open areas near fresh or salt water such as on exposed salt or mudflats, river sandbars, or sandy beaches. More

Least tern photo by Maine Audubon Society Description - Feisty and acrobatic, the least tern is the smallest of Maine's five species of nesting terns. It is about nine inches long and has a 20-inch wingspan. The least tern is white with pale gray feathers on the back and upper surfaces of the wings, except for a narrow black stripe along the leading edge of the upper wing feathers. More

Least Terns are the smallest North American terns. Adults average 8 to 10 inches in length, with a 20 inch wingspan. Their narrow, pointed wings make them streamlined flyers. Males and females are similar in appearance. More

Least Terns forage over water, hovering briefly before plunging in to catch tiny prey just below the surface; they sometimes dip to pluck prey from the surface or to catch insects in flight. Reproduction: Least Terns generally nest and breed in colonies. In courtship, a male carrying fish will fly up, followed by the female; both then glide down together. Their nests are shallow scrapes on open sand, soil, or pebbles, occasionally lined with pebbles or grasses. More

Least Terns have the unfortunate distinction among North American terns of being classified for protection throughout much of their North American range. The Least Tern is a USFWS Bird of Conservation Concern, a continentally threatened species, and classified as "Threatened," "Endangered," or a "species of concern" in most states. Christmas Bird Count (CBC) and Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data both indicate a decline for this species. More

least terns return to Florida from wintering grounds in Latin America. They soon pair up using courtship rituals in which hopeful males offer small fish to prospective mates. The seabirds nest in shallow “scrapes” they make on broad expanses of bare sand. Peak nesting season is from mid-May through July in central Florida, though nesting may continue through August. Eggs are incubated by adults for about 21 days. The young leave the nest in a few days, but don't begin to fly until about three weeks later. More

The Least Tern: The Barrier Islands' Canary in a Mine Shaft = By Leara Rhodes In the 1800s in the southeastern part of the United States there were passenger pigeons and Carolina parakeets, but now the birds are extinct. In 1810 an early American naturalist, Alexander Wilson, recorded 2 billion passenger pigeons migrating south for the winter. The birds were so plentiful that when they flew overhead in flocks, it would take an hour for them to pass. More

Least Tern Illustration Copyright More

Historically, least tern was much more widespread, occurring regularly on the South Platte River west of North Platte (Tout 1947). Breeding Population: Between 65-80 nesting pairs are estimated in the study area annually based on the maximum number of nests located. Faanes (1983b) found 17 nests in the Big Bend reach of the Platte River in 1979. Habitat: Least tern nests on barren riverine islands. More

Historically, the least tern was found on the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and California coasts and on the Mississippi, Missouri, and Rio Grande River systems. It was found throughout the Missouri River system in North Dakota. Present Status: The interior population of the least tern presently breeds in the Mississippi, Missouri and Rio Grande river systems. More

to its declining population, the least tern is considered a Threatened species and is protected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC). It is also protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In cooperation with the FFWCC, staff at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve annually closes off viable beach area within the Reserve where least terns are nesting. Closures have occurred at the south tip of Keewaydin Island annually during nesting season (April through August) since 2002. More

The smallest of North American terns, the least tern has long pointed wings, a deeply forked tail and a black cap. These terns winter in Latin America and return each spring to Florida to nest. They are colonial nesters, preferring to nest on broad sandy beaches or dredge-spoil islands. Over the last 30 years, due to the loss of suitable beach nesting habitat, least terns have taken to nesting on the flat roofs of buildings. More

Least Tern: Breeds along California coast, along rivers in Mississippi Valley, and coastally from Maine south to Florida and the Gulf coast. Spends winters from Baja California south to southern Mexico; also along coasts of South America. Preferred habitats include broad, level expanses of open sandy or gravelly beach, dredge spoil and other open shoreline areas, and more rarely, inland on broad river valley sandbars. More

Least Tern - Solid, injection molded, 1/4" hole for wooden dowel. - This was the bird that started it all. In 1990 Mad River Decoy contracted to make 900 Least Tern decoys for the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense to relocate Least Terns, which were getting killed while nesting on the runways at North Island Naval Air Station, San Diego, CA. More

The Interior least tern is a bird that forages over large rivers and nests on open expanses of sand or gravel on islands in the river. Reservoir construction along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers has reduced, and sometimes eliminated, habitat essential for reproduction. Nesting colonies are threatened by human disturbance. The Interior least tern is listed ENDANGERED by the Missouri Department of Conservation and ENDANGERED by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. More

Least Tern is a broadly distributed species of coastal flats and river sandbars. It has lost nesting habitat and declined in numbers throughout its range. The interior subspecies of Least Tern (Sterna antillarum athalassos) is listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1985) as endangered, except within 80 km of the coast. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (1988) listed the Interior Least Tern as endangered in New Mexico in 1976. More

least tern The least tern is a small, slender tern 8-9 inches in length with a wingspan of 19-20 inches. It has a white throat, breast and belly and a soft gray back and wings. It has short legs; long, pointed wings and a forked tail. In the winter, its head is a mottled gray and it has a black eye stripe and a long pointed black bill. More

Least tern picture 2In the eastern United States, the species S. antillarum breeds from Louisiana to the Dry Tortugas and Key West and northward on the Atlantic Coast to southern Maine. LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: In Florida least tern colonies begin nesting in April and continue through September. If disturbed, they move and renest, evidently repeatedly. In recent years least terns have been observed nesting on flat roofs where tar and gravel compositions bear some resemblance to beaches. More

A least tern, camouflaged by sand and rocks in its natural nesting habitat. A least tern, camouflaged by sand and rocks in its natural nesting habitat. Courtesy: E. Marks, Audubon Society of Rhode Island Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) Field markings: 9 inches long, with a wingspan of 8 to 11 inches. Light gray on the back and wings, white underside, and black crown extending down the nape of the neck. Habitat: Sandy ocean beaches, bays, large rivers. More

Tiny but tenacious, the least tern is the smallest tern in North America and one of the most imperiled. Adult least terns are only about 9 inches long - but their wings are almost as long as their bodies, enabling them to travel long distances over open water. These strong wings come in handy, since Tampa Bay's least terns travel to South America every winter, returning to Florida in the spring to court and raise their young. More

Picture of Sterna antillarum above has been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial.
Original source: Blake Matheson
-Blake Matheson -Author: Blake Matheson
Permission: Some rights reserved
Order : Charadriiformes
Family : Laridae
Genus : Sterna
Species : antillarum
Authority : (Lesson, 1847)