A Forster’s Takes Its Tern

How’s it hanging out there.  Obviously we survived the first snow of the season but maybe just barely.  I did get to test my slide control skills coming down one of the larger hills on the way back from my run.  Not sure what was going on there, but my 4 wheel drive truck decided that the rear wheels wanted to race the front wheels down the hill.  Not a big issue for seasoned Illinois drivers – stay off the brakes, steer into the drift to get control and then accelerate out once you get it straightened out.  Easy peasy, but can get the heart a pumping if a car is coming the other way.  Good to get those control reminders out of the way during the early winter season.  By this morning, the snow was gone from the roads and just another day in the Midwest.

To help warm up the place, figured I’d throw up a post featuring a bird shot back in the summer months – June specifically..
Forster's Tern shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge June 2013

Just not last June.  You should know me better than that by now.  These shots were taken back in 2013.  Trust me, if I could get these out quicker I definitely would.  Wish I could hire an intern to go through all my pictures after a shoot, weed out the crap shots and present me with the shots to take into the digital dark room.  You’d think a UB would do that for me… WAIT A MINUTE… something just triggered in my head.  Not sure I even posted the results of the UB competition this year.  Definitely need to get on that stat!  For now, let’s enjoy pictures of this lovely Forster’s Tern.

Truth be told, when I was shooting this bird down at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, I wasn’t sure what I was taking a picture of.  All I knew is there was one bird that “was not like the others” hanging out along the pier.

Forster's Tern shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge June 2013

Hit he jump to see a couple more pictures of this cool Tern

It definitely looked skinnier than the rest of the Gulls hanging out in the area  and the distinct eye patch drew my attention.  Now the wings seemed to match almost exactly (at least in palette), so it wasn’t definitive.  However, since there was a chance it was a difference species, I tried to get as many shots as I could.  Here is one taken a little closer that shows the large difference in the overall stature, the bill coloring and as mentioned and the darker eye area coloring.  There was a chance that it was just a juvenile, but the dagger vs bent bill didn’t really support that theory.

Forster's Tern shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge June 2013
A quick check with my brother Ron gave confirmation that this was not a Gull but indeed a Tern.  We had taken other Tern’s in the area so this wasn’t that strange, but this is the first time I had seen the non-breeding plumage.  Pretty cool bird and based on the interactions it was having with the other Gulls on the pier, a bad ass – although they may be the small occupant of the railing, they apparently  do not take crap from anyone.  Here it is issuing a string of vulgarities that would make a sailor’s wife cringe.  Guessing that Ring-Billed Gull (quick guess on what that other bird is) was stunned based on the gasp expression it was sporting
Forster's Tern shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge June 2013

The next shot was a classic.  I took the little one’s expression as the Tern’s “drop the mic” response.  I’ll let you bask in the glory of my cursing tapestry while I preen my beautiful feathers.”  The resulting expression on the Gull is “who the hell does this sad excuse for a Dodo think it is?”  That or it just saw my glass pointed at it and started the mandatory “Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine.”

Forster's Tern shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge June 2013

I need to leave you with some education points in appreciation for you taking your valuable time to spend with me.  Off to Cornell to see what they have about this new check mark in my NA Birding List. Looks like this version of the Tern is exclusive to North America.  Apparently these Terns will breed next to Black Terns.  I should have kept my eye open when I took those Black Terns over at Goose Lake (link here).  The Forster’s may have been hanging out there as well.  Eesh, that’s about all they have on this brash bird.
Forster's Tern shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge June 2013

I had to go over to my friends at Wikipedia to learn how it got its name.  They claim it was named to commemorate the naturalist Johann Reinhold Forster – mystery solved!

All I have for you today folks.  Check back soon, since this is the last month of the year I’m trying to pop hurt the queue


2 thoughts on “A Forster’s Takes Its Tern”

  1. I like the title of this post!

    These are really good pics of a Forster’s Tern. I agree, this is some smart-ass trash talker. Small guy with a big mouth. I don’t think I have any pics of this species.

    Somehow we have to get a bird named after us, something cool like Doerfler’s Hawk. Maybe we should start referring to a subspecies as that, like Harlan’s Hawk, a subspecies of the Red-Tailed Hawk, and maybe it will catch on.

    Thanks for your post. I’m going to have to see if I have one of these now.



  2. I’ve always felt I do not get enough credit for my post titles – an unheralded aspect of the blogging experience is how long I spend thinking about my titles – truth be told, that is the primary topic of internal debate during my runs (anything to help keep my mind off all those miles passing under my feet).

    I like the idea of getting a Doerfler bird – we could always take one of our less than crisp pictures (of which I have many) and if it is blurry enough we can make up a new species and claim it is uber-rare (like that Ivory Woodpecker)


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