Bryan Brillhart Photography Presents “Dig IB” Bird of the Week, is the ”Royal Tern”
Nov 11, 2015 05:56PM
By Paul Spear
Bryan Brillhart of Bryan Brillhart Photography presents us with the “Bird of the Week”.
This week’s “Bird of the Week” is the “Royal Tern”.
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“Dig IB” Bird of the Week, is , the”Royal Tern ”.
This week’s “Bird of the Week is the Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus), a seabird in the tern family Sternidae. This large, orange-billed tern favors warm coastal waters, especially those that are shallow and somewhat protected, as in bays, lagoons, estuaries. They are also found well offshore at times, and travel freely between islands in the Caribbean. The royal tern usually nests on low-lying sandy islands. They usually first breed at an age of 4 years, nesting in colonies. Courtship involves high spiraling flights by two or more birds. On ground, the male presents food to the female; both birds bow, strut in circles. Nest site is on ground (usually sandy) in the open. Nest (probably built by both sexes) is a shallow depression, with or without sparse lining of debris.
Within 2-3 days after hatching, the young leave their nest and join others in a group called a "creche." Both parents bring food; parents and offspring are able to recognize each other by voice, so that adults feed only their own young. Age at first flight is about 4-5 weeks. Young remain with their parents for up to 8 months or more, migrating south with them.
They feed mostly on small fish (up to 4" long, sometimes up to 7") and crustaceans, especially
crabs. They eat a wide variety of small fish, shrimp, and squid. Soft-shelled blue crabs are major items in their diet on the Atlantic Coast.
Populations declined seriously in late 1800s - early 1900s when eggs were harvested from many colonies for food, but they made a substantial comeback during 20th century. The Royal tern is still vulnerable to loss of nesting sites which have declined in California since 1950, coinciding with decline in population of Pacific sardines.
Look for this distinctive bird near the Tijuana River mouth and enjoy all the beauty we are blessed with in Imperial Beach.