Breeding adult © Niall D Perrins eBird S53275555 Macaulay Library ML 215811391
Breeding adult © Nick Bonomo
Juvenile © Ken Havard
Breeding adult © Zak Pohlen
Nonbreeding adult © Ben Lucking
+ 2
Breeding adult © Niall D Perrins

Damara Tern Sternula balaenarum

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A very small, short-tailed tern of coastal waters. It often flies slowly on rapidly-beating wings with its head angled downwards, before hovering and plunge-diving to catch small fish. When breeding, it has a complete black skull cap and bill; when not breeding the front of the forehead turns white. It breeds on barren gravel plains and dunes but is most frequently encountered foraging over estuaries, lagoons, and near shore. Its strident “tsit-tsit” call is higher-pitched than those of other terns. In non-breeding plumage, the very similar Little Tern has contrasting paler rump and tail, while Damara Tern’s back, rump, and tail are all the same shade of pale gray.