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Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis


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Sandwich Terns
credit: Peter Wallack/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Laridae, Gulls and Terns view all from this family

Description ADULT SUMMER Has very pale gray back and upper wings, a dark, crested cap, and otherwise white plumage. Legs are black and the long, narrow bill is black with a yellow tip. In flight, wings can look almost pure white but at closer range outer primaries appear as subtly darker wedge. ADULT WINTER (seen in this plumage from late summer onward) Similar, but forehead is white. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but back is barred and scaly.

Dimensions Length: 16" (41 cm)

Habitat Nests along Atlantic and Gulf coasts on beaches and islands; present in summer breeding range mainly Apr-Sep. Winters from Florida and Gulf coasts south throughout Caribbean.

Range Texas, New England, Florida, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast

Voice Utters a harsh chee-urrick call.

Discussion Elegant seabird with powerful, buoyant flight on long, narrow wings. Announces its presence with a loud and distinctive call and dives frequently after fish. Sexes are similar.