Beautiful and distinctive dark tern of the Humboldt Current. Found along rocky coasts and at harbors and piers where it is often confiding; less often found at sandy beaches and river mouths. Feeds over coastal and inshore waters, dipping to pick food from near surface rather than plunge-diving like typical terns. All plumages dark overall with narrow white trailing edge to wings. Adult has red bill and legs, yellow gape patch, and curling ‘Salvador Dali’ whisker. 1st-year browner overall with dark bill and legs, soon develops vestige of white whisker.
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