Caspian Tern

photo by Phil Swanson

Hydroprogne caspia
L 21″ (53 cm) W 50″ (127 cm).

Song or calls:
Loud grating “kar-rreeow” or “ga-ga-gaah.” Immatures, distinctive “whee-you” whistle.

Description: Sexes similar. Large, thick orange-red bill; bill has black subterminal ring. Moderately forked tail, and black legs. Breeding birds show dark black cap, while winter and juvenile birds show a dusky or white-streaked cap. Cap has a slight crest. In flight, dark underside of primaries are visible.

caspian tern
Habitat: Migrants can be found on larger rivers, deep marshes, lakes, and reservoirs.

Where in Nebraska: Uncommon spring and fall migrant statewide.

Field Notes: North America’s largest tern.

Fun Facts: If the fish offered to the young is dropped on the ground, the adult Caspian Tern will wash it off before offering it to the young again.

Caspian Tern - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)