Royal Tern (American)

Thalasseus maximus maximus


Jeff R. Wilson
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Mississippi River--Dacus Bar (TN)
Shelby, Tennessee, United States
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Latitude and Longitude 35.1552, -90.0715 Map



I had not paid much attention to the other birds after seeing this Royal and needed to get photos. The Royal got up and started flying around fishing and soon came back to the sandbar and proceeded to FEED an immature bird! It brought two fish back for the youngster before the whole troop left for points south! I never saw the front of the young bird well but when the two flew off they were matches in size and wing cadence. The wing patterns, above and below were seen well. Katrina just keeps on Going and Going and Going............

Observation details

Well, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina kept me breathless for 2 days with 3 new TN birds and a possible GREAT TN bird to be reviewed. Then, when I finally thought I could get some rest by going back to work, she did it again. I had to go down town this morning, playing catch up after playing hooky. Of course, I had to go by the river. There was nothing of interest when I pulled up except a few Least and Black Terns. I started to leave when a string of 6 large terns came flying in from behind the trees on Loosahatchie Bar. The fourth bird back, looked slimmer and sure enough it was a ROYAL TERN. They scattered about and I whipped out the camera and even through heat waves and shooting across the river, I got pretty good ID shots. I skimmed through the others but nothing really caught my eye. The Royal preened a little and another bird had sidled up to it but it was an immature and I did not pay it much attention as I concentrated on the Royal. The Royal got up and flew around fishing, giving me good looks at the wing pattern, after a while it caught a fish and brought it back to the sandbar and FED the young bird!!!! That just blew me away and I popped off a few more shots. Within a few minutes, the Caspian Terns headed down river and the Royal fed the young bird again before they too headed south. I never really got a good look at the immature except from the back as it rested and was being fed but as they flew off, it appeared to have the lighter forehead and was about the same size as the adult Royal! YOU JUST NEVER KNOW........ Photos here:

Technical Information

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648 x 506

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