Wayne Rundell Photography | Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

May 27, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Todays blog post is dedicated to a friend and family member who is at Mayo clinic undergoing cancer treatment. Life will test all of us at some point and while we feel stuck on the sidelines seemingly powerless to do anything to help, we have to stop and realize the power of positive thought and the energy it gives to those around us. This and every post to follow will be dedicated to push our positive energy to Jim. We hope this finds you on a positive path towards being well again. Please send a note to Jim by leaving a message through my website or send it to me and I will make sure it gets forwarded. Just a simple hello can make a huge difference.

Todays photo subject is the Caspian Tern. Rivaling some gulls in size, the Caspian Tern is the worlds largest tern. It is known for its predatory habits, stealing prey from other seabirds, as well as snatching eggs from and hunting the chicks of gulls and terns. It is aggressive in defending its nesting territory, giving hoarse alarm calls and rhythmically opening and closing its beak in a threatening display to intruders. I witnessed this display first hand as I got down on my knees and waddled into the waters of Chequamegon Bay in an attempt to get within camera range. Lucky for me, I had worn my waders that morning of May 20th because after kneeling in the icy water chest deep for 20 minutes, I could feel the cold creeping into my lower extremities. Luckily this tern separated itself from the nearby gulls and offered an unfettered view for the camera before I lost all feeling in my legs. This was my first capture of a Caspian Tern and a fun adventure for an early morning photo shoot.

Cool Facts (credit; allaboutbirds.org)

  • The oldest known wild Caspian Tern lived to be more than 26 years old. Average life span of Great Lakes Caspian Terns is estimated to be 12 years.
  • The Caspian Tern aggressively defends its breeding colony. It will pursue, attack, and chase potential predatory birds, and can cause bloody wounds on the heads of people who invade the colony. The entire colony will take flight, however, when a Bald Eagle flies overhead, exposing the chicks to predation from gulls.
  • The world's largest breeding colony is on a small, artificial island in the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington, home to more than 6,000 breeding pairs each year.
  • Young Caspian Terns appear to have a difficult time learning to catch fish efficiently. They stay with their parents for long periods of time, and are fed by them even on the wintering grounds. Many young terns do not return to the nesting grounds for several years, remaining instead on the wintering areas.



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