Wednesday, June 10, 2009

World's largest tern

I've got Caspian Terns on the brain. One, this spectacular fish-spearers are the logo bird of the upcoming Midwest Birding Symposium. Register here!

Two, I'm putting the wraps on an article on Caspian Terns for Bird Watcher's Digest. It'll be the issue out this fall, to coincide with MBS. This will be my fourth cover story for the mag, and probably the most fun of the lot to write.

As part of my research, I had a great conversation with Dr. David Craig of Willamette University, the guy who may know more about Hydroprogne caspia than anyone, anywhere. Great guy, with loads of wonderful info.

Dave does research on Caspians at the world's largest colony, at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. A mind-numbing 9,000 pairs nest there! Hold your ears and take an umbrella! He's got a treasure trove of wonderful photos, and allowed me to use the first three in this post. Males use fish to charm the females.

An adult offers a scaly treat to a young tern that is carefully being guarded by its mother. Check the little fuzzball in the background. As evidenced by the fuzzy little fellow on the right, they learn to beg loud and hard at an early age!

The above is my shot, of a long-suffering adult accompanied by a young of the year bird. Caspian Terns have one of the longest periods of parental care, with the noisy whistling youth following them for several months and many thousand miles.
Don't want to say much more about these coral-billed jumbos now - read the article when it emerges!


Heather said...

I know nothing about terns, so I look forward to your article (and Julie's artwork). They are neat-looking birds, though. Any particular reason why they were chosen as the logo bird of the MBS? I think my husband and I will be going to the symposium in Sept - sounds like fun!

BTW, thanks for helping with the IDs on my last post about the Wilds.

Mike said...

Cool, Jim. I was pleased to find out how common Caspians are here on Lake Ontario. Sure, I left a lot of oceanside species behind when I left NYC but things turned out fine.