Daily Archives: August 26, 2012

Spotlight On Ohio Birds

Forster’s Tern ( Sterna forsteri)

Family: Laridae

Order: Charadriiformes

Description:ADULT SUMMER Has mainly pale gray back and upper wings, black cap, and otherwise white plumage. Legs are orange-red and bill is orange-red with black tip. In flight, note dark trailing edge to otherwise white primaries (lack dark “wedge” on Common’s inner upper primaries). ADULT WINTER Looks pale overall, except for dark “mask” through eye, black bill, and darker primaries (especially margins). JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but with buff feathers on back, upper wing, and crown, pale-based bill, and shorter outer tail feathers; first-winter is similar to winter adult but with shorter outer tail feathers.

Voice:A harsh kree-err call.

Habitat:  Breeds in marshes, generally with lots of open water and                         large stands of island-like vegetation. Winters in marshes, coastal beaches, lakes, and rivers.

Nesting: 1-6 Olive to Buff colored eggs with numerous small spots or blotches of dark brown. Nest varies from unlined scrape in mud or sand, to elaborate raft of floating vegetation, or on top of a muskrat lodge. Typically placed in clumps of marsh vegetation close to open water.



  • Forster’s Tern is the only tern restricted almost entirely to North America throughout the year.
  • Spawning common carp are so vigorous that they can dislodge Forster’s Tern eggs from floating nests.
  • Forster’s and Black terns breed near each other in marshes. Wandering semi-precocial young may account for observations of each species feeding the other’s young.

Resource material provided by:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology/ http://www.allaboutbirds.com