Readers’ wildlife photos

Get your wildlife photos in, please; we have a few in the tank and a lot of singletons, but I’m getting nervous. . .

Evolutionist John Avise has sent me a lot more than just the Duck O’ the Week photos, but I haven’t put many of them up in recent months. We’ll begin remedying that with today’s post, which John calls “One good tern deserves another.” Yes, it’s terns. John’s IDs and comments are indented.

     Here are several tern species that I’ve captured in flight, mostly against blue sky backdrops.

Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia) Southern California (note the heavy ruby-red bill):

Elegant Tern (Sterna elegans), Southern California (note the thinner orange-red bill):

Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri), Southern California (note the deeply forked tail and bi-colored bill):

Least Tern adult (Sterna antillarum), Southern California (note the yellow bill and white forehead):

Least Tern juvenile (Sterna antillarum), Southern California:

Black Tern juvenile (Chlidonias niger), Southern California:

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), Finland:

White Tern (Gygis alba), Hawaii:

Greater Crested Tern (Sterna bergii), South Africa (note the yellow bill):

Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger), Southern California (note the long lower mandible):

Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis), Florida (note the yellow-tipped black bill):


  1. David Harper
    Posted July 22, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Since the title of this post is a tern pun, I feel that consent has been implicitly given for the following:

    Scientists are studying the effects of cannabis upon sea-birds. They plan to leave no tern unstoned.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted July 22, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Things will take a tern for the worse if we allow this thread to develop…

      • David Harper
        Posted July 22, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        If that happens, I’m sure that PCC(E) will tern off commenting on the thread.

  2. Posted July 22, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    When, oh when, will the Least Tern be the Greatest? (And shouldn’t it be the “white Tern” not the “White Tern”?)

    • john
      Posted July 22, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      The official common name of this species is White Tern, so it is indeed a white White Tern.

  3. Posted July 22, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    That is a most excellent and comprehensive set of pictures! I had not thought of skimmers as being terns, but now it seems obvious.

    • Paul Matthews
      Posted July 22, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Skimmers are terns in the sense that gulls, terns, and skimmers are all considered to be in the same family (Laridae), but each of these groups form their own subfamily (and indeed skimmers used to be classified in a separate family) so in that sense they are not terns.

  4. Posted July 22, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos John, thanks.

  5. Posted July 22, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    ‘Tis the season. Tern! Tern! Tern!

  6. Posted July 22, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Those are magnificent.

  7. rickflick
    Posted July 22, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Turns are gorgeous. Nice to see them here.

  8. Joe Dickinson
    Posted July 22, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    A remarkable set of in flight photos. I know from bitter experience how hard it is to catch terns in flight.

  9. Posted July 22, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Great pictures of marvellous birds. I like how many of these seafaring animals are familiar to birders in many parts of the world.

  10. Paul Matthews
    Posted July 22, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    These are really lovely photos of lovely birds. Terns can be frustratingly hard to identify, though. Every spring, arctic terns pass through my area (Ottawa, Canada) in varying (but always very small) numbers and birders gather at a particular point on the Ottawa River to watch the small shimmering far-out specks and try to determine which are Common Terns and which, if any, are Arctic. The more experienced tern watchers (or perhaps they’re just bolder) confidently call them out based on subtle differences in shape while the rest of us scratch our heads. This spring a birder was heard muttering “I hate arctic terns, they’re the bird I hate the most!”. I’ll never forget some years ago hearing a birder excitedly tell another that arctic terns were about, to which the second replied: “when you’ve seen one tern, you’ve seen them all.”

  11. Mark R.
    Posted July 22, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful birds and photos. I had no idea that Southern California has so many tern species.

  12. Posted July 22, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful photos, Prof. Avise!

  13. tjeales
    Posted July 22, 2020 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Terns in flight are one of my favourite types of bird photos. They are so elegant. I’m sad there are no skimmers in Australia, I’d really like to see one. Thanks for sharing

  14. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted July 23, 2020 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    One good Tern deserves another.

  15. Posted September 9, 2020 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    Lenders do not care about any credit score.

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