Thursday, May 29, 2014 Tern Comparison

Seward, Alaska

Rain, rain, rain! Marvelous, life-giving, green-painting rain! Monday evening's dark clouds did indeed bring the gift of rain, easing in with sprinkles and then, as if remembering how, let loose with serious, soaking rain. I did not think it could get any greener here around Seward, but it did.

The unFunny River wildfire burned 192,831 acres as of today, and is now 46% contained with 760 firefighters still working hard to keep it away from populated areas. Even more rain is needed to put it out, and the report stated the fire might continue into the summer. (!)

Today was a good time to check out my photos to compare the three different tern species that might be seen in Seward, and coastal Alaska. The ARCTIC TERN is the most common species, followed by the ALEUTIAN TERN, and rarely, the CASPIAN TERN.

I'm still waiting to find an Aleutian Tern in Seward, but we are lucky to have many Arctic Terns pass through in spring and fall migration, while many stay to nest here. The Caspian Tern has been seen several times over the years, but usually does not stay for long. It sure is exciting to see one!

If you see a small tern and hear a sweet chirping sound, you are looking at the Aleutian Tern. The Arctic Tern makes a tremendous, strident, loud, and raspy cry. As a fearless dominant tern, it will drive away any potential predators from Eagles to Ravens. The meek and mild Aleutian Tern will often nest near the Arctic Tern where their territories overlap, to take advantage of this aggressive defense. 

When the rain moves along, it will be easier to use optics to check out those buoyant and exuberant terns. If you see an Aleutian or Caspian Tern, please let me know.

I highly recommend the Aleutian Tern Festival in Yakutat, Alaska where you can watch, hear, and compare Aleutian and Arctic Terns in person, and enjoy many other fun events. It starts June 5-8; for more information, visit their website at <>.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog Carol.
    Millane's Serenity by the Sea Cabins
    Seward Ak.