• Peak Breeding Activity: May-June
• Incubation: 3-4 weeks
• Clutch Size: 3 eggs
• Young Fledge: 27-30 days after hatching
• Typical Foods: fish
• Ohio Status: Endangered
The common tern is gray on the back with darker wing tips, and has a white head with a black cap. The blacktipped, red-orange bill separates this bird from other similar terns.
Habitat and Habits
Terns are small, fast-flying water birds with deep V-shaped tails. They do not soar or swim like the gulls, but dive from the air straight into the water after small fish. The preferred nesting sites of common terns are natural or man-made islands that are free of mammalian predators and human disturbance. They will also utilize mainland beaches and dredge disposal areas, but only when islands are unavailable. Their call is a harsh "kee-aar."
Reproduction and Care of the Young
The common tern nests in colonies that may be shared with other terns and gulls. Their two or three spotted olive-brown eggs are laid in a grass-lined depression in the sand. Most clutches are laid during May and June and the young hatch around mid-June. These young terns normally leave the colony during the second half of July. Common terns frequently renest if their first clutches are destroyed.