Seven sparkling photos of beach-loving Least Terns

A Least Tern in flight looks toward the camera.

Least Terns that nest on roofs are the subject of a wonderful article in our August 2016 issue by National Geographic Young Explorer grant recipient Erika Zambello.

Migratory birds, Least Terns summer along the coasts of the United States and Mexico and in the Caribbean, but they spend the winter months along the shoreline of Central America and upper South America. Kim Caruso photographed the tern above on Plum Island, a barrier island located off the northeast coast of Massachusetts, in June 2014. She says she used a Canon 7D camera with a 400mm 5.6L lens.

Least Tern Side View_660x440

Most Least Terns live along the coast, but there is an interior population as well, listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The global population is estimated at 60,000-100,000 birds. The population in Florida is over 12,000. That’s where photographer Joshua Clark found the ruffled bird above.

Least Tern Looking Down_660x440

Least Terns are magnificent plunge-divers, capable of submerging as deep as 10 meters (over 32 feet). The bird above was just about to dive for a fish. Jeff Cole took the photo on Pensacola Beach, on the Florida Panhandle.

Least Tern with Chicks_660x440

Zambello writes in our August issue that competition for space on Florida beaches has been so intense recently that many Least Terns now nest on the sides of bridges or on gravel rooftops. The Least Tern above didn’t have to go to the trouble. Kim Caruso spotted it and its two chicks at Sandy Point State Reservation, a state park located at the southern tip of Plum Island, on the Massachusetts coast, in late June 2014.

Least Tern Chick_660x440

Joshua Clark tells us that this little ball of fluff, a Least Tern chick, emerged from a sandy nest on Flagler Beach, on Florida’s Atlantic coast between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, early on June 4, 2015.

Least Tern Pair_660x440

Least Tern is the smallest of America’s terns. The bird holding the fish above is a male. He’s courting the other tern, a female. Joshua Clark captured the moment at Flagler Beach, Florida, in early May.

Least Tern Overhead_660x440

gman79 was on Panama City Beach, east of Pensacola, on the Florida Panhandle, when he spotted the Least Tern above. It was one of several terns that were flying overhead, moving from their nesting area to the Gulf to gather food for their young. He used a Canon 50D camera and a 100-400mm L lens.

The August 2016 issue of BirdWatching containing Erika Zambello’s article about Florida’s causeway skimmers and rooftop terns is on sale now at Barnes & Noble and on other newsstands.

See more photos of Least Tern.

Seven photos of amazing Black Skimmer.

Three ways to help beach-nesting terns and skimmers.

See the contents of our August 2016 issue.


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