Range/Geographical Distribution: Throughout North America.
Habitat: Marshes, coastal beaches, lakes, and rivers.
Similar Species: Royal tern, laughing gull, ring-billed gull, and herring gull.
Description: A medium-sized tern with a grey back and a deeply forked tail. In the summer, the head has a black cap and the legs and bill are orange. In the winter, there is a black patch around the eye and the beak and legs are black. Immature has similar coloration to the winter adult.
Size: Length: 13-14” Wingspan: 30-31” Weight: 130-190g
Food: Small fish and arthropods.
Breeding: Breeds in marshes, usually near open water. Nests in clumps of marsh vegetation and lays up to six speckled olive/sand colored eggs.
Predators: Sharks and large birds of prey.
Conservation Status: The Forster’s tern is listed as least concern by IUCN. Depleted fish stocks, litter, and loss of habitat threaten these birds.
Interesting Facts: The Forster’s tern is the only tern restricted to North America. They can be seen plunging head first into coastal waters.
On the Coast: Forster’s terns come to Georgia’s coast during the winter months.