The Forster’s tern (Sterna forsteri) is a tern in the family Laridae. This is a medium-sized tern with a slender body, deeply forked long tail and relatively long legs. In its non-breeding plumage, the crown is white, and a black coma-shaped patch covers the eye and the ear-covert. The wings are gray with the primaries being dark silver gray, while the underside is white. The bill is black, and the legs are a dull brownish red.
When breeding, an intense black cap extending down the neck appears. The wings and the back are pale gray while the underside is bright white. The bill is orange with a black tip, and the legs are bright orange. [Wikipedia]
One of the several medium-sized terns that are similar in appearance, the Forster’s Tern breeds primarily in marshes and winters along the coasts. The comma-shaped black ear patch in winter plumage is distinctive, but some other plumages are very confusing. [All About Birds]
Forster’s Tern Facts [All About Birds]
- Forster’s Tern is the only tern restricted almost entirely to North America throughout the year.
- 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.
- Spawning common carp are so vigorous that they can dislodge Forster’s Tern eggs from floating nests.
- The oldest known Forster’s Tern was at least 15 years, 10 months old when it was killed by contaminants in California in 1989. It had been banded in the same state in 1973.