BIRD OF THE WEEK — LEAST TERN — PLANET EARTH BIRD WORLD group

BIRD OF THE WEEK:

LEAST TERN

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Gelochelidon nilotica
POPULATION: 14,700-21,200 (North American population)
TREND: Declining
HABITAT: Open shorelines, shallow saltwater flats, salt marshes

The Gull-billed Tern is a stocky bird with wide wings, a short, notched tail, and a stout black bill, different from the slender bills of other terns such as Least Tern. Kristen Vale, Coastal Program Coordinator for ABC’s Gulf Coast Birds Program in Texas, calls this species “the most un-tern-like tern along the coast.”

Like the Wilson’s Plover and Black-necked Stilt, this species is threatened by habitat loss; pesticide use and human disturbance at breeding colonies are also threats.

Least Terns, Greg Lavaty

The smallest tern in the Americas, the Least Tern sports a yellow bill that signifies that it’s ready to breed.

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