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Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Birds Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Winter adult

General Description: Royal Terns (Thalasseus maximus) are large, pale terns with black on the head, a heavy orange bill, and a forked tail. The wings are gray with black primaries. In flight, the underside of the wing is mostly white. Feathers on the back of the head form a shaggy mane.

This species has differing winter and summer plumage. In breeding plumage, Royal Terns have a jet black cap that extends from the top of the bill to the back of the head. During winter, they loose most of the black feathers in the cap, resulting in a white forehead and a streaked crown.

Taxonomy: Charadriiformes, Laridae, Sterninae. Formerly Sterna maxima.

Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Note mostly white under the wing

Favored Habitat: Coastal waters with fish.

Where to Find: Don't look for Royal Terns around Las Vegas. Rather, look for them on trips to the coast. Most Royal Terns breed along coastal waters in the mid-Atlantic states. A few birds nest on the southern California coast, where they are fairly common during winter.

Comments: Along the West Coast, Royal Terns are similar to the more common Caspian Tern. However, Caspian Terns have a heavier bill, a less deeply forked tail, and in flight, shows considerable black under the wing.

Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) If you were a tasty little fish or perhaps a squid, this might be the last face you ever see!
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Winter adult
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Winter adult with Willet
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Note USFWS leg band
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Winter adult with Black Skimmers
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Note black on top of the wing
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Winter adult with Willet and Sandwich Tern
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Winter adult with Whimbrel
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Winter adult with Black Skimmers
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern taking a bath; Dunedin, Florida
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern taking a bath; Dunedin, Florida
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern taking a bath
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern taking a bath
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern taking a bath
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern taking a bath
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern taking a bath
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern taking a bath
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern begging behavior; Dunedin, Florida
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Royal Tern begging behavior; Dunedin, Florida
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) more to come ...
Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 120218

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