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Orleans Park
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Charadriiformes > Laridae

Caspian Tern

Hydroprogne caspia

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Identification

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Largest tern in the world; widespread but typically uncommon. Thick, bright-red bill is distinctive; most have small dark marking near the tip. Note solid black cap in summer which turns to black streaks in winter. Juveniles have V-shaped markings on the upperparts. Feeds by cruising over lakes, rivers, estuaries, and reservoirs looking for fish, then plunging to catch them. Smooth wingbeats, more gull-like than choppy flight of small-bodied terns. Very vocal, giving loud raucous screams. Compare especially with Royal Tern, which is slightly smaller and more slender, and has a thinner, more orangey bill.

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Caspian Tern

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