There are a number of reasons why I decided to take on this project. My first reason has to do with my interest in birds. This began shortly after moving to Victoria ten and a half years ago. With our house backing onto a wooded area, the chirping of birds is a familiar sound all year long. I often glance out the window to see birds of all forms in the yard throughout the day. Frequently I will pull out the Birds of Victoria or Birds of North America reference guides we have on hand. Unfortunately, the drawings in the first aren’t overly helpful for identification and the number of entries in the second is overwhelming. My second reason has to do with a photography course I took a number of years ago. Since that time I have been trying to think of a practical reason to buy a new camera. Taking pictures of birds requires a powerful zoom lens which my previous point-and-shoot camera could not accommodate. Perfect! My final reason was my desire to take on a new project to welcome in 2011. Hence, bird of the day was born.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Caspian Tern

Hydroprogne caspia (formerly Sterna caspia)

  • Large, gull-like tern
  • Large, thick, red-orange bill with dark tip
  • White head with black cap
  • White neck and belly
  • Pale gray upper wings and back
  • White, shallowly forked tail
  • Pale underwings with dark primary feathers
  • Black legs

Listen to its call.

Before today, my knowledge of terns consisted of crossword puzzle definitions like 'sea eagle' or 'gull-like seabird'.  However, I now know there are ten genera of terns, which were once considered a subfamily of the gull family. This bird, the only one in its genus, is the world's largest tern. I saw a number of them at Esquimalt Lagoon earlier this week. They are almost the size of a large gull, which is probably why I've never noticed them before, but they have a distinct way of flying that sets them apart from the gulls. 

This one was flying over the water with its bill pointing down, when it suddenly plunged in to catch a fish.

Learn more about the Caspian Tern.

Additional pictures:

1 comment:

  1. I saw one of these this weekend on Lake Huron in Ontario. It's orange beak was so distinctive I took a picture and looked for it on the internet. Thank you