Thursday, September 19, 2019

Royal Tern

I saw my first royal terns while in a small motor boat in the lagoon between South Padre Island and the mainland of deep southern Texas, just off the Gulf of Mexico. 
Royal terns
There are two subspecies: (1) the one we saw, Thalasseus maximus maximus, the nominate subspecies, which is found along the coast from southern California to Peru and Florida and the West Indies to Argentina; and (2) T. m. albididorsalis, found from Mauritania to Guinea in Africa. 

Royal tern sandwiched between two Caspian terns. 
It has an orange-red bill, pale gray upper parts, white under parts, black legs, and a black cap during breeding season which becomes patchy otherwise. They were mixed in among Caspian terns and were initially hard for me to distinguish. 

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