Caspian Tern (non-breeding plumage)
Family: (Laridae) Gulls and Terns
Preferred Habitat: Beaches and coastal marshes.
Seasonal Occurrence: Common throughout the year. Nests in our area.
Notes: The Caspian Tern, the largest tern in the world, has a light gray mantle, white underparts, black legs, a shallowly forked tail and a heavy red-orange bill with a faint black tip. In nonbreeding plumage, the bird has a black cap streaked with white. In breeding plumage, the bird has a jet black cap. The Caspian Tern is one of the most widespread tern species in the world, occurring on every continent except Antarctica. It is common on the Gulf Coast throughout the year and also nests in our area. Noted for its long adolescence, Caspian Tern young may remain with their parents as long as 8 months. Many an adult Caspian is trailed by a begging youngster from the previous nesting season, even on the wintering grounds.
-- Vicki Stittleburg