Species Profile

About Little Terns: Tiny Titans of the Tides

Birdorable Little Terns

Little Terns might seem like unremarkable seabirds at first glance, but these feathered beach inhabitants pack a surprising punch of interesting facts. Here's why you should appreciate these tiny titans of the shoreline:

Masters of Migration

Despite their diminutive size (8-11 inches tall), Little Terns undertake epic journeys, migrating annually between Eastern European and Western Asian breeding grounds, and wintering grounds in the pacific ocean as far as the waters of Southern Australia. Imagine flying all that distance on relatively tiny wings!

Family First

Little Terns are devoted parents, building simple nests in open areas or small islands, and laying just two or three precious eggs. Both parents share incubation and chick-rearing duties, fiercely protecting their vulnerable offspring from predators, especially Eurasian Thick-knees, and the harsh elements. Their parental dedication is a heartwarming example of avian family life.

Diving Dynamos

While some aquatic-feeding birds dabble for food, Little Terns specialize in the aerial plunge from a prolonged hovering position. They dive headfirst into the water from impressive heights, snatching up tiny fish and invertebrates with laser-sharp precision. Their acrobatic maneuvers are an impressive display of avian athleticism.

Hovering Little Tern by Jason Thompson (CC BY 2.0 Deed)

Community Champions

Little Terns often nest in colonies, creating a cacophony of chirps and squawks on the beach. While this might seem chaotic, it actually serves as a community defense system. Predators are more likely to be spotted and repelled by the vigilant eyes of many birds.

Fragile Fighters

Sadly, Little Tern populations are threatened by habitat loss as development takes away their coastal nesting sites and disturbances to their feeding grounds. These vulnerable birds rely on pristine beaches for nesting and feeding, making them important indicators of coastal health.

The Little Tern joined our Birdorable family on March 21, 2014.

Birdorable Little Tern Gifts

Birdorable Bridled Tern

Today’s new Birdorable species is a pelagic seabird: the Bridled Tern!

Like many seabirds, the Bridled Tern has a monochromatic plumage in whites, greys, and blacks. Their plumage is countershaded, meaning they are dark above and light below. This is a type of camouflage -- the way natural light hits them helps to make them less visible to aquatic prey from below and potential predators from above.

Bridled Terns are found in tropical and subtropical waters across parts of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This cutie joins Birdorable as our 15th species of tern.

Bridled Tern

Tomorrow we’ll add a species of waterbird with the longest bill size of any species. Do you know this bird?

Cute Bridled Tern Gifts

Today we have added the Inca Tern to Birdorable. Inca Terns have a mostly dark grey plumage, with the tail being darker. The wings are tipped in white. Males and females look alike. Adult birds can easily be recognized by their long white mustachial feather plumes. Mustaches are hot right now, making Inca Terns the most popular birds on the beach!

inca-tern

Inca Terns are piscivorous, meaning their diet consists of mostly fish. They eat small fish including anchovies and silversides which are snatched from the water as the bird swoops down from a hovering position. Love these ornate fish-loving birds? Be sure to check out our collection of cute cartoon Inca Tern gifts!

inca tern

We're excited to continue our journey towards our 500th Birdorable species by introducing a new bird each day. Today, we're delighted to showcase the Least Tern, a remarkable and delicate bird that is part of our Birdorable Bonanza.

Birdorable Least Tern

The Least Tern is the smallest of the American terns and is easily recognized by its size, white forehead, black cap, and yellow bill. One of the most fascinating aspects of Least Tern behavior is their unique courtship ritual, which involves gift-giving. During the mating season, male terns engage in what is known as a "Fish Flight Display." In this display, a male tern carries a small fish in his bill, calls out while flying, and then performs a graceful gliding maneuver as he lands. This ritual often culminates in the male presenting the fish to a prospective female mate, a gesture that plays a crucial role in pair formation.

In the United States, the Least Tern is considered a species of concern in many states. This status is primarily due to habitat loss and disturbance at their traditional nesting sites. Least Terns typically nest on sandy beaches, but with the increasing loss of these natural habitats, they have adapted to use alternative nesting sites such as gravel-surfaced rooftops or man-made nesting platforms. Conservationists have been actively involved in providing these additional nesting habitats to help preserve the species. These efforts include creating safe and suitable environments for Least Terns to breed and raise their young, thus aiding in the conservation of this charming species.

Least Tern courtship 2-20120419
Least Tern courtship by Kenneth Cole Schneider (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Tomorrow our 2013 Bonanza continues with the addition of a small European songbird with a big personality.

bonanza-2013-preview-3

Cute Least Tern Gifts

Birdorable Caspian Tern

Here are ten interesting facts about the Caspian Tern:

  1. The Caspian Tern is the world's largest tern species.
  2. The Caspian Tern's diet consists almost entirely of fish.
  3. Unlike many other tern species, the Caspian Tern retains its black cap during the winter (non-breeding plumage).
  4. The Caspian Tern occurs on all continents except Antarctica.
  5. Caspian Terns are highly vocal. Chicks vocalize while they are still in the egg!
  6. Caspian Terns are fastidious when it comes to feeding their young. Adults rinse their bills after feeding their babies. If an offered fish is accidentally dropped on the ground, the adult will rinse it off with water before re-offering it to the baby tern.
  7. Caspian Terns nest along the Gulf Coast and thus are one of the species directly threatened by the BP Oil Spill Disaster of 2010.
  8. Starting from day one, chicks are fed whole fish, which they swallow headfirst.
  9. The oldest known wild Caspian Tern lived to be 26 years old.
  10. The Caspian Tern is one of our cute Birdorable birds! The Caspian Tern was added to Birdorable on July 20, 2007.

Cute Birdorable Caspian Tern Gifts

The Sooty Tern is a seabird that breeds on equatorial islands. Outside of breeding, they rarely are seen on land. The Sooty Tern has two nicknames related to its loud and somewhat obnoxious call. It is called the Wideawake Tern; in Hawaiian its name means cacophony. The Sooty Tern used to be part of an important ritual for the people of Easter Island. The clan of the "birdman" who could collect the first egg from a Sooty or Grey-backed Tern each year would control the island's resources. The Sooty Tern has been on Birdorable since July 2007. Be sure to check out our great collection of Sooty Tern t-shirts & gifts!

Birdorable Sooty Tern on Easter Island

This week's highlighted t-shirt design is our Birdorable Black Tern, shown here on our Organic Onesie. The Black Tern is a small tern that lives near inland water in Europe and North America. Our Black Tern t-shirts will make great gifts for tern lovers and birdwatchers. Birdorable Black Tern

The Adorable Common Tern

Common Tern

Doesn't this Common Tern have the cutest tiny feet? We took this picture at Starrevaart, a bird sanctuary near The Hague in the Netherlands. Every spring during breeding time there was a small island full with these guys right next to a bird hide. It was great to visit the hide and see the terns busy feeding their young and hunting for fish. The island was overcrowded with terns and they sure made a lot of noise. They have small feet but big mouths. ;) Fun Fact: This bird drinks its water while flying, gliding over the surface and dipping its bill several times into the salt water. Like many seabirds, Common Terns have nasal glands that extract the salt. Pretty neat, he? Check out our cute Birdorable terns and gulls.

If you're a fan of seabirds, then you're in for a treat with the charming array of terns featured in Birdorable's latest collection. Terns are fascinating seabirds known for their graceful flight, slender bodies, and long, forked tails. They are found in a variety of habitats across the globe, from coastal beaches to inland waters. This particular design showcases nine different tern species that grace the skies of the United States and Europe, turning any birdwatcher's or Tern enthusiast's day into an exciting spotting adventure.

Nine Featured Terns

The Caspian Tern, with its impressive size and powerful build, is the largest of the tern family. Its deep, raucous calls are as distinctive as its appearance, making it a standout among its peers. Then there's the majestic Royal Tern, easily recognized by its striking black cap and robust bill, often seen diving for fish along coastal waters.

For those who prefer the allure of the open ocean, the Sooty Tern, with its sleek, dark plumage, spends most of its life flying over tropical seas, rarely touching land outside of breeding season. Contrastingly, the Black Tern, with its nifty agility, frequents freshwater marshes during its breeding season, showcasing a dramatic shift from its non-breeding pale appearance to a striking dark plumage.

The Gull-billed Tern, as its name suggests, has a uniquely shaped bill resembling that of a gull, setting it apart as it forages for a diverse diet, from insects to small fish. Meanwhile, the Whiskered Tern, primarily found in Europe and parts of Asia, sports a delightful grey and white plumage during the breeding season, complete with a distinctive black cap and, as expected, whisker-like markings.

The Common Tern, perhaps the most widespread of all, is often spotted gracefully plying the waters of lakes, rivers, and coasts, its sharp, pointed wings and buoyant flight a familiar sight. The White-winged Tern, with its stunning transformation from a non-breeding pale plumage to a breeding attire of black with white wings, adds a touch of elegance to the mix. Lastly, the Sandwich Tern, named for the town of Sandwich in Kent, England, where it was first described, is admired for its long black bill tipped with yellow, making it a favorite among bird enthusiasts.

Birdorable Terns Mug

Nine Birdorable Terns Mugfrom Zazzle

Birdorable Terns Long Sleeve T-Shirt

Birdorable Know Your Terns Long Sleeve T-Shirt from Zazzle

Birdorable's "Nine Birdorable Terns" and "Know Your Terns" designs are not just about celebrating the beauty and diversity of these seabirds; they're about bringing bird lovers together, sharing in the joy of birdwatching, and fostering a deeper appreciation for our feathered friends. Whether you're an avid birder, a backyard birdwatcher, or someone who marvels at the beauty of birds in flight, these designs offer something special. They serve as a wonderful reminder of the incredible diversity of birdlife around us and the importance of conserving their habitats for future generations to enjoy.

So, whether you're looking for a unique gift for a birding enthusiast or you're a tern fan yourself, Birdorable's collection is sure to delight. With these adorable and detailed designs, you can carry a piece of the birdwatching experience with you wherever you go, celebrating the beauty of Terns in a fun and stylish way. Dive into the world of Terns with Birdorable, and let these magnificent seabirds inspire your next birdwatching adventure.