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Friday, June 03, 2016

Friday's Foto

The smallest tern in the Americas, the Least Tern is a mere 8"-9" in length with a wingspan of 19"-20" , approximately the size of the American Robin. Its small size, yellow bill and white forehead make it hard to mistake for any other tern. They feed by plunging into water from flight, occasionally hovering briefly before diving. Least Terns feed mainly on small fishes, shrimp, and sometimes other invertebrates.

Their breeding range along the Atlantic Coast is from Maine south to Florida and along the Gulf Coast south to Mexico. They also breed along the California coast and inland along the Colorado, Red, Rio Grande, Missouri and Mississippi river systems. They winter from the Gulf Coast and Central America south to Peru and Brazil.

In New York State their conservation status is "Threatened". Federally their status is "Endangered" for the interior U. S. only, not on the coast. Populations are endangered in many areas because of human impacts on nesting areas, especially from competition for use of beaches. In addition, because Least Terns nest on the ground, they are vulnerable to attacks by cats, dogs, and other predators, such as coyotes. They are included on The North American Bird Conservation Initiative's "State of North America's Birds 2016" as a watch list species with a concern score of 14. The Watch List includes 432 species with concern scores of 14 or higher, or with a concern score of 13 and a steeply declining population trend—these are the species most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats.

Their scientific name, Sternula antillarum, means small tern (diminutive from genus Sterna) from the islands of the West Indies.

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